Feelings Don’t Care About Your Facts: Here’s Why Its so Hard to Change Someone’s Mind

A few weeks ago, I was in a conversation with someone who quoted Ben Shapiro saying, “Facts don’t care about your feelings.” The tension between facts and feelings is a topic that’s been coming up quite a bit in discussions recently for me, as I’ve talked with people who are frustrated by how many people today ignore scientific research related to several issues that I don’t want to get into right now. My reason for bringing this up is that listening to these comments prompted a related thought.

Feelings don’t care about your facts.

You can have all the research in the world to back you up but when feelings are involved people (as a whole) just don’t care. You can’t root out deeply help opinions by inundating people with logical reasoning. It’s like if you’ve ever spilled cooking oil on your clothes and then tried to scrub it out with water. The facts just run right off because they doesn’t mesh with what we already hold true.

“As a result of the well-documented confirmation bias, we tend to undervalue evidence that contradicts our beliefs and overvalue evidence that confirms them. We filter out inconvenient truths and arguments on the opposing side. As a result, our opinions solidify, and it becomes increasingly harder to disrupt established patterns of thinking.” — “Facts Don’t Change People’s Minds. Here’s What Does” by Ozan Varol

At its most simple, “Confirmation bias occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs. When people would like a certain idea or concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true.” Once we get an idea in our heads, we tend to hold on tight to information that supports it and ignore or reject anything that would threaten this idea. These tightly-held ideas can be anything from a political view, to an understanding of how the world works, to a belief about yourself (“What Is Confirmation Bias?” by Shahram Heshmat Ph.D.).

It’s Not Just “Them”

We tend to think that we’re right and other people who disagree with us are wrong. We can easily see confirmation bias at work in others, and many of us are more than happy to point that problem out and offer correction.

This isn’t just a problem with other people, though. It’s a problem with you and me too. We all have confirmation bias about the things we believe. We all filter-out opposing information and gravitate toward the things that agree with us. No matter how rational and fact based we think we are, we’re also influenced by confirmation bias. If we want to understand why it’s so hard to change people’s minds we need to recognize what’s happening in ourselves as well as in them. Read more

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Taking Responsibility for Our Own Feelings and Learning to Talk about Complicated Issues in Today’s Society

I love getting into deep, complicated discussions with people. For example, what are the political and social implications of the fact that people who score high in the personality trait Conscientiousness tend to identify as conservative and those who score high in Openness tending to identify as liberal? Or what does it mean to “live your truth” and can one do that as a Christian while still accepting God’s truth as the absolute moral authority?

Talking about those sorts of things (or even just listening) makes me come alive. This is one reason I love podcasts that deep-dive into complicated topics. Two of the most recent were “The Heart of the Abortion Debate” from Crossway Podcast and “Radical Self-Discovery with Jator Pierre” from the Awaken With JP Sears Show. On this latter one, they opened with talking about “this interesting, tight-knitted, hyper-constricted PC culture” and the question, “Why the hell do you think we’re so PC here in 2019?”

This latter question went in a curious direction that I’ve been pondering for more than a week now. Because PC topics are so emotionally charged, “many of us become emotionally blinded and we don’t bring in a lot of logic,” to quote Jator Pierre. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that most of us don’t know how to take responsibility for how we feel or how to effectively communicate and share in a back-and-forth dialogue.

Taking Away Voices

Wikipedia says the term political correctness “is used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society.” It sounds good in theory, but in practice it has turned into a culture where certain people try to silence any ideas or words that offed them without caring how that might affect others outside the PC-protected groups. Instead of seeing words as vehicles to communicate different viewpoints and facilitate dialogue, they see words as violent and react defensively.

“Not many of us are taught how to communicate, how to share, how to dialogue, how to hear, how to reflect, and how to notice when we’re emotionally charged to be able to take maybe a step back for a second or two to feel what’s coming up, to notice what’s coming up, and then to continue on with a dialogue. Most of us go into a defended posture, in my experience, and then go on the attack.” — Jator Pierre

It also has the side-effect of encouraging the offended person blame others for how they feel. We’re heading toward a culture where people think they have a right to avoid being offended by someone else. What they don’t realize or care about is that their refusal to hear offensive things leads to them hurting and/or shutting down others who don’t agree with them. Instead of bringing people together the PC movement creates further polarization and enmity. Read more

Feeling Is A Rational Function, and Other Things You Might Not Know About Thinking and Feeling in Myers-Briggs®

In the Myers-Briggs® typology system, a preference for Feeling (F) or Thinking (T) shows up as the third letter in your personality type. But what does it actually mean to use Thinking over Feeling, or vice versa?

You’ve probably heard that Thinking types tend to be more rational and cerebral than Feeling types, who are typically more emotional. There’s a lot more to it than that, though, and the stereotype isn’t entirely accurate. Keep reading to learn 5 things you might not have known about the Thinking and Feeling processes.

They’re Both Judging Functions

Thinking and Feeling are both what we call “Judging” functions. They’re used to describe the psychological process you use most often when making decisions. If you have an F in your four-letter type code, then you use Feeling to make decisions. If you have a T in your type, then you use Thinking.

If you’re a Judging (J) type, then that means you use your judging function to interact with the outer world. A TJ type uses Extroverted Thinking and an FJ type uses Extroverted Feeling as their most comfortable way of making decisions. If you’re a Perceiving (P) type you still have a judging function, but it’s oriented to your inner world. A TP type uses Introverted Thinking and an FP type uses Introverted Feeling.

Both Thinking Are Feeling Are Rational

One of the biggest surprises when I started diving deeper into research on psychological types is that Feeling and Thinking are both considered rational processes. Read more

“Thinking” Women and “Feeling” Men

One of the ways we relate Myers-Briggs type to culture is by saying most Feeling types are women and most Thinking types are men. This seems to work quite nicely as a partial explanation for gender stereotypes in Western culture. In spite of social pushes to break-down gender distinctions, Feeling-type attributes (emotionally expressive, nurturing, relational, etc.) are typically considered “female” and Thinking attributes (impersonal, fact-oriented, business-like, etc.) are considered more “male.”

If we fit this generalization, we probably haven’t even noticed it. If you’re a woman with traditionally feminine traits or a man with traditionally masculine traits, there’s little pressure to change (though there are exceptions, of course). But if you’re a woman whose mind naturally makes decisions in an impersonal way or a man who prefers harmony to competition chances are someone has told you at some point that there’s something wrong with you.

"Thinking" Women and "Feeling" Men | marissabaker.wordpress.com
Photo credit: ralphbijker, CC-BY via Flickr

Type Distribution

As with many generalizations, there’s a whole slew of problems related to this observation. According to the Center for Applications of Psychological Type, about 57 to 84 percent of women are Feeling types and about 47 to 72 percent of men are Thinking types. It’s hard to get exact numbers on type distribution, but even these broad estimates show that, while the generalization holds true, there are also quite a few Feeling men and Thinking women.

Thinking Women and Feeling Men | marissabaker.wordpress.comJust in my family of 5, there are three good examples of exceptions to the general rule that most men are Thinkers and most women are Feelers. My dad (ISFJ) and brother (ENFJ) are both Feeling types, and my sister (INTJ) is a thinking type. My mother has asked me not to type her, but as an INFJ I might be the only one in my family who fits the “women are Feeling types” generalization.

Thinking vs. Feeling

Lest these generalizations lead you to conclude Thinking people don’t have emotions or that Feeling people can’t be intelligent, let’s take a quick look at what Thinking and Feeling refer to when we’re talking about Myers-Briggs types. Both Thinking and Feeling are Judging functions, meaning they describe how you like to make decisions. Read more

Looking For Love With The MBTI

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Dennis Skley, CC BY-ND via Flickr

People have been trying to use personality types to find their perfect romantic match since typology first became popular. In a previous posts about Myers-Briggs types and love languages, I talked about how falling in love — and staying in love — with someone is so much more complex than simply matching personality types. Sometimes when browsing personality type forums, I’ll come across posts from people asking how to find and attract a someone of a specific personality type (often it’s an ENTP asking for step-by-step instructions to win an INFJ, which I find hilarious). It’s like some of us think that if we can just find someone who is our ideal type-match, then we’ll be happy because we caught the mythical “compatibility” creature.

Disclaimer: some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click on the link and make a purchase on that website.

Now, I do have some personality types I find more attractive romantically than others, but it’s not always the types I’m “supposed” to like according to Myers-Briggs or Keirsey theories. Even Isabel Myers was happily married to a man who her theory said should have been incompatible. An understanding of love languages and a mutual willingness to understand and work with each other is one piece of the puzzle. Another is something I just learned this week from Personality Hacker.*

The “Genius System”

Personality Hacker was founded by Antonia Dodge and Joel Mark Witt, who use what they call the “Genius system” to divide Myers-Briggs types into four groups based on the last two letters in a person’s type. In terms of function stacks, this means they group types based on whether the type introverts or extroverts their Judging function. The groupings end up looking like this:

  • “Harmony” — Extroverted Feelers (ESFJ, ISFJ, ENFJ, INFJ)
  • “Authenticity” — Introverted Feelers (ESFP, ISFP, ENFP, INFP)
  • “Effectiveness” — Extroverted Thinkers (ESTJ, ISTJ, ENTJ, INTJ)
  • “Accuracy” — Introverted Thinkers  (ESTP, ISTP, ENTP, INTP)

According to a new article on Personality Hacker, each of these groups look for and expressed love in a unique way. Most people would tell an INFJ to look for a relationship with an ENFP or an ENTP and avoid their opposite type, ESTP. This system stays that an ENFP and and ENTP express love in completely different ways, but ENTPs and ESTPs are actually very similar in how they love. That would explain why some INFJs find ENFPs really attractive, while others prefer ESTPs or ENTPs. It’s not so much about matching two specific types, as it is about finding types who express love in a way you relate to and understand. This Genius style take on the MBTI adds an intriguing aspect to the subject of personality types in relationships. You can check out the Personality Hacker podcast on how each type says “I Love You”* for a full explanation, but here’s my brief take on what this means:

Types of Love

Harmony” types, who use Extroverted Feeling as their first or second function, feel loved when they are connected, safe, cared for, and accepted as their authentic selves. They express love in a similar way, by encouraging the people they love and keeping in touch with them. They are primarily concerned with harmonious relationships and emotional connection.

The types who use Introverted Feeling, “Authenticity” in the Genius System, highly value honesty in relationships. They feel loved when they know someone is being real with them and is supportive of their own authentic expressions. Authenticity types express love by giving people space to be themselves and being willing to work through problems in the relationship.

Effectiveness” types, those who use Extroverted Thinking, value independence in relationship. They want to know that the person who loves them is supportive of their goals and can be trusted to function on their own. They are loyal and protective towards those they love, and give them room to be themselves.

Those who use Introverted Thinking, “Accuracy” types, feel loved when they are respected. They want to know that the person who is in love with them thinks they are impressive and that the relationship makes sense. In return, they are protective, non-judgmental, and strive to bring the best version of themselves to the relationship.

Matching Types

Ultimately, typology is simply a tool we can use to understand each other. When we understand ourselves and the people around us, we have a better idea of what we’re looking for in a romantic relationship. I think that’s really the best way to apply Myers-Briggs theory to romance. We can’t just say that all INFJs’ ideal match is an ENTP — people are far more nuanced than that, even within a type. But the better we understand how we’re wired and what makes us feel loved, the more likely we’ll be able to recognize whether a potential romantic partner would be a good or a bad match for us.

This is one of the things Debra Fileta talks about in her book and blog True Love Dates. You have to know yourself before you try to get to know other people in a romantic context, otherwise you have no idea what you’re looking for in a relationship. So maybe the first thing we should do when looking at the Genius System types is find which group we fit into. If we know who we are, we’re one step closer to knowing what we want.

*indicates affiliate links

 

The God of Logic

This study all began with perusing the “lambda” section in a Greek dictionary. I came across the word logikos (G3050), which means “pertaining to reason and therefore reasonable.” You’ve probably already guessed that it’s where we got our English word “logic.” This is the word used in Romans 12:1 for “reasonable service.”

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom. 12:1-2)

The God of Logic | marissabaker.wordpress.com
image credit: nasa.gov “Stellar Nursery in the Rosette Nebula”

I tend to connect my faith with a feeling more than an intellectual idea. I know “intellectually” that God exists and that the Bible makes sense, but for me personally the feeling of Him being real and present and in a relationship with me seems more important. This has frustrated some of the more rational, logical people I’ve talked to. One atheist who had been raised Christian couldn’t understand why things that seem contradictory in scripture didn’t bother me even though I couldn’t explain all of them. Another person still in the church said that my “spirituality” is almost intimidating because I talk about my feelings for God so much, and that kind of faith seems alien to her. Other people attracted by reason and logic have walked away from their faith when confronted with scientific arguments for evolution or a “big bang” explanation of how the universe came into being.

One of the things I’ve run across in my studies of type psychology is that “feeling” types are more attracted to spirituality and religion than “thinking” types (this refers to a preference for dealing with people or data, not a measure of intelligence). In fact, I read of one study that indicated the more highly educated the person is, the more likely they are to be involved with a religion (sorry — I don’t have the citation yet. I’ll try to find it and update this post later). It makes sense that “feelers” are attracted to a place that encourages group interaction and harmony, but I worry that we may have scared off some of the “thinkers” with our talk of a touchy-feeling God who just wants to love people. It is true that God wants a relationship with everyone, but it’s not true that everyone needs to relate to Him the exact same way. He means to be accessible to all the people He created.

Order and Logic

There aren’t just one or two verses that simply state “God is ordered and logical.” Rather, the entire Bible and the whole of creation is a testament to the way His mind works. We can read Genesis 1 and see the orderly step-by-step way He created the world, then look at creation and see His master-craftsman hand at work in every aspect of the universe’s design. Scientists have been doing this for years, and many come to the conclusion that God is the only explanation for how the universe is so perfectly put together.

“The more I study science, the more I believe in God.” –Albert Einstein

“There can never be any real opposition between religion and science; for the one is the complement of the other. Every serious and reflective person realizes, I think, that the religious element in his nature must be recognized and cultivated if all the powers of the human soul are to act together in perfect balance and harmony. And indeed it was not by accident that the greatest thinkers of all ages were deeply religious souls.” –Max Planck

“When confronted with the order and beauty of the universe and the strange coincidences of nature, it’s very tempting to take the leap of faith from science into religion. I am sure many physicists want to. I only wish they would admit it.” –Tony Rothman

The God of Logic | marissabaker.wordpress.com
image credit: nasa.gov “The Carina Nebula”

These quotes were taken from two articles: Quotes from Scientists Regarding Design of the Universe  and Quotes about God to consider…if you think science leads to atheism (please see these sites for full citations and more quotes).

There are a couple verses in 1 Corinthians that speak to the orderly, logical attributes of God. Paul was discussing who should speak and how meetings should be conducted in the church, and makes these statements:

God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. … Let all things be done decently and in order. (1 Cor. 14:33, 40)

God does not author confusion — He wants things to progress in a decent, orderly fashion. Even mildly logical, perfectionistic, or OCD people can identify with this attribute of God.

The Word of Intelligence

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1-3, 14)

In these very familiar verses, the Greek word translated “Word” is logos (G3056). It is the root word for logikos, which we’re already talked about. It means “to speak,” but it is distinct from other words that specifically refer to sound or noise (lalia, G2981) or to speaking without necessarily making sense (laleo, G2980). Logos means to express intelligence.

Logos, when it refers to discourse, is regarded as the orderly linking and knitting together in connected arrangement of words of the inward thoughts and feelings of the mind. … In the first chapter of John, Jesus Christ in His preincarnate state is called ho Logos, the Word, meaning first immaterial intelligence and then the expression of that intelligence in speech that humans could understand. (Zodhiates)

One of the most well-known names of Jesus carries with it a testament to God’s reason, intellect, and logic. It is a key role of Jesus Christ to express intelligence — to communicate the thoughts of God in a way that people can understand.

The God of Logic | marissabaker.wordpress.com
image credit: nasa.gov “Dust and the Helix Nebula”

Sometimes when people come across something in relation to God that “doesn’t make sense,” they assume that there’s something wrong with the Bible. But that’s just another way of saying that we think our minds work better than the Mind of the One who designed us. It’s really rather absurd to think there’s something wrong with God because we don’t understand Him perfectly. But it’s far more unsettling for some of us to admit that the problem might be on our side.

In John 8:43, Christ was debating with some of the Jews who were following Him. They were offended and confused by some of His words, and this is what He said to them:

Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. (John 8:43)

The word “speech” is translated from lalia — to make sounds — and “word” is from logos. Because they couldn’t grasp Christ’s intelligence speech, it was as if He was speaking nonsense (I’m indebted to Zodhiates’ Key-Word study Bible for analyzing this verse).

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is. 55:8-9)

Rather than assume there’s something lacking in God when we can’t understand Him and then reacting with hostility or disgust (by the end of John 8 the Jews were trying to stone Jesus), let’s follow James’ advice.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

The Issue of Feelings

C.S. Lewis is the perfect person to bring in on this discussion. He was a very logical, rational Christian (probably an INTJ, for those of you who like Myers-Briggs). I like this description of him from The New York Times Book Reviw: “C.S. Lewis is the ideal persuader of the half-convinced, for the good man who would like to be a Christian but finds his intellect getting in the way.”

The God of Logic | marissabaker.wordpress.com
image credit: nasa.gov “The Great Carina Nebula”

Now, the thing about Lewis is that for him, getting your intellect out of the way certainly doesn’t mean abandoning reason and just “trust your feelings” or “have faith.” On the contrary, Lewis says that our faith absolutely must have a rational basis.

Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods “where they get off,” you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. (Mere Christianity; III, 11)

That’s why it’s dangerous to try and base your faith on emotions alone. Feelings for God are all well and good, but feelings can change — we might “fall out of love” or fall into a season of doubt. But we can’t afford to give up on God when we don’t feel close to Him anymore. We have to keep choosing to seek Him because we have decided He is the only way to go.

Lewis went on to say in this chapter of Mere Christianity that we need to “train the habit of faith” daily by reminding ourselves of what we believe. He says, “Neither this belief no any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed.” And if it’s not, we’ll be one of those people who just drift away from Christianity without even coming up with a reasonable argument for God not existing.

A Logical Sacrifice

The Bible tells us to “Pray without ceasing” and “test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thes. 5:17, 20). It’s a succinct instruction from God to do precisely what Lewis was talking about. God wants us to constantly be seeking, questioning, learning, and asking Him to help us understand His words.

This is another reason to stay close to the Source of the Living Water that we talked about in last week’s post. We need Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, involved in our lives. He is the Logos, and He is well able to shore-up our faith with reason and wisdom and good-sense.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, which the Father will send in My name, that one will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:26)

And then, having this foundation of knowing God exists, that He is more intelligent than we are , and that He sacrificed Himself for us, we can go back to Romans 12:1 and understand why it is logical for us to present ourselves in service to God. He created us, and “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). He died to buy us back from sin, and we belong to Him not only as His creation, but as His to redeem (1 Cor. 6:20).

The God of Logic | marissabaker.wordpress.com
image credit: nasa.gov “The Rosette Nebula”

Since I just quoted Acts 17, let’s take a quick look at the apostle Paul. He was probably the most highly educated of the apostles, since he was trained as a Pharisee (Phil. 3:5). It took direct divine intervention to show Paul that Jesus is the Christ (Acts 9:1-19), but once he was convinced of this fact he turned all the energy and emotion he’d been using to persecute the church into preaching the gospel. And he did so in a manner both firmly grounded in reason and full of zeal. He preached to groups of people from every walk of life, including presenting a reasonable argument to the Athenians and quoting their own poets and thinkers (Acts 17:16-34). He wrote most of the New Testament, epistles full of deep inspired reasoning that even Peter described as “things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Pet. 3:15-16). Paul wrote the letter which tells us it is our “reasonable service” to devote every part of ourselves to following God, which is exactly what he did.

We are all made in God’s image, but no one person or type of person is “enough” to fully reflect all of who and what God is. I’ve seen this talked about in discussions of gender — man and women embody different attributes of God. Similarly, 1 Corinthians 12 describes different spiritual gifts, and different types of people that are all necessary parts of the church. If everyone was the same, the church would be lacking essential attributes.

 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. (1 Cor. 12:18-19)

The same, I think, can be said of personality types. Aspects of God are reflected in introverts and in extroverts, in people-oriented feeling types and in fact-oriented thinking types. And God Himself is accessible to everyone — He wants a relationship with the logical, questioning mind just as much as He wants a relationship with the more stereotypically “spiritual,” emotional people.