Positive Psychology & Scripture Part IV: Strength of Open Mindedness

OPEN-MINDEDNESS [Judgment, Critical Thinking]

Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one’s mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly

SCRIPTURE

Luke 24:45
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

Acts 16:14
One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.

2 Corinthians 6:11
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.

2 Corinthians 6:13
As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.

Scriptures use the word opening of the mind and opening of the heart. It was difficult to find enough uses of the phrase opening of the mind so I decided to use opening of the heart as well. It appears to me that the Lord Himself intervened and “opened their minds” in the Gospel of Luke so that they could understand the Scriptures. He also “opened her heart” in Acts for a women to respond to Paul’s message. This sounds like it has nothing to do with the individual choosing it but the Lord moving someone to be open in the moment. There is also another use in 2 Corinthians in which Paul is exhorting them to open their own heart to his message. This sounds like a circumstance in which the individual is in control whether or not to be receptive to Paul’s message. In both circumstances it appears that having an open heart or open mind is a strength.

OPEN MINDENESS

DEFINITION

It is the willingness to search for evidence against one’s beliefs, plans, or goals, and to weigh such evidence fairly. Its opposite has been called the myside bias, which refers to tendency to think in ways that favor one’s current views (cf. Greenwald, 1980). The term bias means that people’s thoughts and judgments are compared to an ideal standard, a normative model that are already strong in their minds.

Agree with:

  • Abandoning a previous belief is a sign of strong character.
  • People should always take into consideration evidence that goes against their beliefs.
  • Beliefs should always be revised in response to new evidence.

Disagree with:

  • Changing your mind is a sign of weakness.
  • Intuition is the best guide to make decisions.
  • It is important to persevere in your beliefs even when evidence is brought to bear against them.
  • One should disregard evidence that conflicts with one’s established beliefs.

CORRELATES AND CONSEQUENCES

  • Instructions to consider both sides, or just the other side, reduces some bias of interest.
  • C. A. Anderson (1982), found that asking people to think of arguments on the other side increased the person’s sensitivity thus reducing the bias.
  • Complex thinkers attend to more information, in particular contradictory notions (winter, 1996).
  • are less swayed by singular events and are more resistant to suggestion and manipulation.
  • are better able to predict how others will behave and are less prone to projection (Bieri, 1955).
  • are better able to accommodate stress (Suedfeld & Piedrahita, 1984).

DEVELOPMENT

  • open mindedness increases with age (throughout childhood and early adulthood)
  • and education (e.g. Kokis, Macpherson, Toplak, West & Stanovich 2002)
  • O.J. Harvey, Hunt, and Schroder (1961) believe that child rearing practices that emphasize interaction with the environment as opposed to parents imposing on their child abstract rules for living.

ENABLING AND INHIBITING FACTORS

  • Janis and Mann (1977) argued that good thinking is likely to happen when a decision is important,
  • when the decision maker has time to make it,
  • when it is possible that some outcome is acceptable.
  • Severe time pressure, or the perception of hopelessness, leads to myside bias, or panic.

Selective Exposure

Liberals tend to read liberal newspapers, and conservatives tend to read conservative newspapers.

Primacy Effects

the evidence that comes first matters more.

Polarization

People discount the evidence against their belief and then proceed to count the evidence on their side, forgetting that it seems better even though they did not subject it to critical scrutiny.

 

All of the information on each of these strengths come from Character Strengths and Virtues (Seligman & Peterson. 2004)

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