Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Charisma and the Brain, Part 2

Studies in Denmark have shown the power of perceived charisma. The study recipients’ assumptions about senders’ charismatic abilities had important effects on their executive network.” Perceived charisma in intercessory prayer inhibited the frontal executive network of Christian study volunteers. Brain areas responsible for vigilance and skepticism become less active when a Christian falls under the spell of a charismatic figure (especially a figure that the individual believes has divinely inspired powers of healing, wisdom, and prophecy). Neuroresearchers say this explains the reason some specific individuals can gain influence over others, their ability to do so depending heavily on preconceived notions of their authority and trustworthiness by the listeners. According to the study abstract, these observations “point to an important mechanism of authority that may facilitate charismatic influence, a mechanism which is likely to be present in other interpersonal interactions as well.” Researchers speculate that brain regions may be deactivated in a similar way in response to doctors, parents, and politicians (a potentially staggering implication).

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