The Science of Belief: Identify Perceptions of Harm

If, for example, someone feels that refugees pose a threat to their community, regardless of what data and history show, they will have a negative reaction to information regarding refugees and look for reasons to justify their perspective. Kurt Gray, professor of social psychology at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Chelsea Schein, a postdoctoral fellow at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, argue that people make rapid judgments based on their perceptions of harm. Harm is a universal value that informs people’s gut emotional reactions to information. If people perceive harm they will develop justifications for their position.

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