Home > Uncategorized > 50 years After Woodstock Generational Differences Persist…Especially Tolerance for Others.

50 years After Woodstock Generational Differences Persist…Especially Tolerance for Others.

10demonstrThe Pew Research Center recently relased a report detailing the generational differences between the youn and old.  As usual there were noted differences between the groups regarding values, use of computer technology, and music the respective groups enjoyed.  However, on the issues of tolerance for others, immigration, and status conflict the numbers were stark.  These primary issues of diversity seem to still have the ability to generate the most intense feelings and emotions of any of the areas surveyed. Look below at the Social Groups chart:

social groups

The question then becomes why?  Based on the latest research from neuroscience and  complexity theory I think we can accurately answer the question.  The latest neuroscience research has documented that as humans we have a propensity to be biased in 3 ways that are particularly important to any disussion regarding diversity.  The first cognitive bias we have is to rely the mental models we developed through our early experiences.  In other words we pretty much stick with the views we were raised with or developed through our friends at an early age.  This cognitive bias or reliance on previous experience creates automatic responses in our brain by strengthening the neural circuits that fire when we are confronted with a situation or information we encounter.  We like to take information and place it in categories that we have already established.  This phenomena becomes more pronounced as we get older because the neural pathways become more entrenched.  You know, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.

Secondly, Because we categorize everything we look for others who fit the categories that we are in.  As such, our social networks are largely made up of others who think like we do.  You see this organizaing principle in every organization where there are more than two people.  This is what in complexity science is known as clustering.  In highschool and in the workplace we call it cliques or clans.  In other instances we call it tribes.  These cliques, clans, and tribes can be created around any salient attribute that the respective members deem important.  It could be a sports team, some ethnic consideration, or a group to save the prarie dogs of the great South Dakota plains. (Are there prarie dogs in South Dakota? I think so..) Anyway, this emergence of clustering is what creates social groups that have real differences in how they view the world.  These differences are highly sensitized by age and geography.

The third cognitve bias is our affinity for the pecking order.  Or our sensitivity to status which in our country is tied to wealth.  The social situation of status as characterized by wealth has a significant impact on how a person sees the world.  And since most young people have not yet achieved a high level of wealth they are not as readily influenced by it’s aura as is the older amongst us.  See, class or status is a determining factor on who you socialize with, where you live, what you eat, and the type of job you get.  These factors  heavily influence  a person’s sense of purpose and their respective view of the world.

So, in sum neuroscience tells us that our brain is a categorization machine that uses status and likeness to determine which category one belongs in.

read article here

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. August 17, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    To agree with the article, the generational difference of today has seemed to change from decades ago. One reason I think this is, is because the world and youth has become over the years, more liberal. We don’t see as much difference between young and old as we do black and white, immigrant and native-born. However far we have come, these facts show us that we still have a long way to go. If we can only say that a love for rock music has changed, then we aren’t saying much. We should be in a world that when this assessment/survey is given, the results between the responses of young and old are similar and that there is no difference of how we feel about black and white, young or old, rich and poor.

  2. August 19, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    I find it interesting how this survey was able to reach such a wide range of people. Breaking the data down even further by race, sex, religion would also be an interesting aspect to compare the data. Personally I am a true follower of new age Rock music, and I can say from experience that the sound of Rock has changed greatly since the generation of WoodStock. I guess it also comes down to what genre of Rock these individuals were asked about. I know that the Rock I listen to is very different than the Rock that my grandparents and parents listened to during the time of WoodStock. I would also like to say I find it sad that a certain percentage of people didn’t even know what WoodStock was. We need to make sure we are teaching our children the importance of history. I also agree with Ashely as she posted above that people today have grown up in a more Liberal enviornment, and I think that shows in many different ways with this research.

  3. August 20, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    The three reasons for our inevitable bias as discussed in this article are very real and aparent in everyday life. The first reason discussed, paths created by our brains for easy catagorization, is the most influential in my opinion. The brain creates these pathways to accomodate the tremendous amount of information that it encounters everyday. In doing so, we allow for stereotypes and misreads that take the form of bias. You can think of these connections like roads. The Santa Fe Trail began as an unmarked, unchartered path. After repeated use, it became more functional and smoother for travel. Years later, this path formed the general route for major U.S. highways. This is a simplified example of how the brain works. We use these paths over and over until they become hardwired. Everyone has someone in there family who is “stuck in their old ways”. This is because the paths they use have many decades of transmission, making them extremely strong and difficult to change. To get around these functions, one must consciously create new connections and repeat their usage to show brain that we want them to be used. The next basis for bias is clustering. It is easy to see that we group with others that are similar to us in thinking and behaving. This natural characteristic allows us a sense of comfort and removes the need to prove ourselves to others. The third is the affinity for pecking order. This is another connection in the brain that tells us how things should be organized. By shifting our paradigm, we force the brain to make new decision without the aid of flawed connections.

  4. Innovative Diversity
    August 26, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    In today’s society our access to information exposes us to many differing views at the touch of a button creating the need to reassess the world quite often. It may be this which creates a more accepting society, while the generational gap is perceived to be larger due to the pace of technological innovation, which even the younger generation has difficulty keeping track of.

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