Who we think we are has huge impacts on our behavior in the world. Social psychologist Dr. Dean Rader breaks down how our woldview affects our behavior.

Worldview affect the engine of civilization. It affects who we each individually think we are, how we behave, our moral sense, business. It affects everything.

An experiment was done by two social psychologists. They took a bunch of students and they had them read passages with the standard neuroscience description of who we think we are. They key phrase was “you are nothing but a pack neurons,” that we are basically all material substances, in which case, everything that you think you are – all of your thoughts and emotions and all of your interior life is nothing but a pack of neurons.

Then they gave the students the opportunity to do a couple of experiments where they could cheat if they wanted to. And what they found was that the students who read the passage “You are nothing but a pack of neurons” cheated significantly more.

The worldview creates a moral sense. If your worldview says that there is no inherent meaning in anything, that ultimately the Universe is a pointless object, and when you die, you are dead and there is nothing else going on, then it changes your sense of how do I need to live right now.

Well, if I am going to die and there is no meaning to it, I should get everything I want right now. I should cheat if I have to.

Whereas if we had a different model, which said that maybe you are part of some gigantic living system with some kind of inherent meaning and your actions could have consequences not only for yourself but for your loved ones and everyone else.

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