Why You Never Learned from That Unliked School Teacher, While You Thrived With Others?

Why You Never Learned from That Unliked School Teacher, While You Thrived With Others?
New research out of Lund University has shown our brains are 'programmed' to learn more from people we like. And therefore, less from those we dislike.

The discovery suggests that our social preferences play a significant role in how we absorb information. A series of experiments in cognitive neuroscience found memory serves a vital function. When presented with information from known and likeable individuals we are able to learn from new experiences and update existing knowledge.

We learn both from individual experiences and from connecting them to draw new conclusions about the world. This is called memory integration and makes learning quick and flexible. However if you don’t have a favourable view of the person teaching or sharing information, you are unlikely to connect and develop on experiences. 

We Absorb More from Liked Individuals

To examine what affects our ability to learn and make inferences, researchers Inês Bramão, along with colleagues Marius Boeltzig and Mikael Johansson, set up experiments where participants were tasked with remembering and connecting different objects.

Research found that the memory integration was impacted by who presented the information. If it was a person the participant liked, connecting the information was easier compared to when the information came from someone the participant disliked.

These findings have profound implications for education, interpersonal dynamics, and even politics. Understanding the influence of social preferences on learning could lead to more effective teaching methods and strategies for knowledge dissemination. Moreover, it underscores the importance of fostering positive relationships and rapport in educational and professional settings to optimise learning outcomes.


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