We like to think we’d do the right thing in a tough situation. We’d stand up to our boss when necessary, step in if we saw someone being bullied, and say no if we were asked to do something we felt was wrong. It’s tempting to think we have an innate moral compass that guides our actions, even under pressure from others.
In reality, however, most of us are remarkably bad at standing up to authority. New research is revealing why this is, giving us insight into how the brain deals with – or fails to deal with – these difficult situations. Ultimately, the research could show us how we can train ourselves to become stronger-minded and better able to stick to our guns when needed.
Scientists are beginning to understand that being able to stand up to authority doesn’t hinge on bravery or courage, confidence or stubbornness, according a BBC feature.
56The brain processes and regions essential for rejecting ideas from authority figures are starting to be revealed. And just how invested we are in a cause may prove to be the all-important factor in determining where we are able to draw a line in the sand
Given this complexity, finding ways to train yourself to get better at resisting authority might seem incredibly challenging. As yet, there’s no specified, evidence-based programme of training we can follow to make ourselves do better in these difficult situations. But such a training program is exactly the “scientific dream” of one researcher, Emilie Caspar, of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience.