Plus, the link between nature and empathy

“Emotions completely transform us as people. So when we're in one emotional state, it's as if we're a different person than we are when we're in a different emotional state.”
George Loewenstein


  • Change your mind. If you change your mind about something, you might feel embarrassed. Perhaps it means you made up your mind too quickly to begin with. Or that you’re fickle and don’t feel a strong sense of conviction. But these notions aren’t necessarily true, argues Alexandra Plakias, an associate professor of philosophy at Hamilton College. In a piece for Oxford University Press, Plakias writes, “While some changes of heart might happen because of overly hasty belief formation, or beliefs that are motivated by self-interest, it’s also possible that a willingness to take countervailing evidence and arguments extremely seriously leads one to change one’s mind often.” Plakias applies the argument to philosophy, but it’s food for thought for all of us. “One can aim at truth even while reserving judgment on whether one has hit it this time,” she writes.

  • Act naturally. Spending time in nature is good for you — it sharpens our cognition and reduces stress (well, unless you’re this guy). And according to new research, feeling more connected to nature is associated with having more egalitarian views. Researchers wanted to learn how a person’s relationship with nature was associated with their views on social dominance. “If a person can empathize with nature, such as an endangered species, it should not be surprising that they also show kindness to fellow human beings, such as marginalized groups in society,” the authors told PsyPost. In two studies, they found that people who scored high on a measure of connectedness to nature also scored low on a measure of social dominance orientation. For example, people who agreed with statements like, “I often feel a sense of oneness with the natural world” tended to disagree with statements like, “Some groups of people are simply inferior to other groups.” Study author Henry Kin Shing Ng of the University of Hong Kong said that exposure to nature can help enhance social and psychological well-being in people. “When you feel connected with nature, you’ll also feel connected with others and be nicer to them.”

  • Is it just me? Think about the last time you asked someone for something. Maybe you were nervous or worried about what the person would think of you. Chances are that you didn’t stop to think about the pressure you were exerting on that person. A phenomenon known as “egocentric bias” can make it hard to see the world through the eyes of others. Listen to learn more.


Some news: Our annual You 2.0 series is back! Every week in August, we’ll bring you stories about how we can approach the chaos of our lives with wisdom. 

Aug 9: In a fit of anger or in the grip of fear, many of us make decisions that we never would have anticipated. We look at situations that make us strangers to ourselves — and why it’s so difficult to remember what these “hot states” feel like once the moment is over.

Aug 16: It's hard to shake the contagious optimism of weddings. But marriage is challenging, and there are signs it’s getting even harder. In this episode, we explore how long-term relationships have changed over time and whether we might be able to improve marriage by asking less of it.

Listen on Apple

Listen on Spotify


A girl was ten on her last birthday. She will be twelve on her next birthday. How can this statement be true?


What is so special about this phrase below?

Never odd or even.

The Answer:  It’s a palindrome. The phrase reads the same backwards and forwards.



This is one cool orangutan.

Gone Fishin’: Our newsletter will be taking a short summer break for the rest of the month. But don’t worry — we’ll be back in your inbox in September. See you soon!

Have an idea for Hidden Brain? A story you want to share with us? Send an email to ideas@hiddenbrain.org. And if you’d like to support our work, you can do so here. Listen to us on Spotify, Apple or your favorite podcast platform.