Predisposed for Bad | #MyFridayStory №336

Frans Nel
4 min readJun 14, 2024


Kindel Media | Pexels

From the time we humans are born, our default setting is to be bad. This becomes more evident when we try to be good.

One of the subjects my older brother studied and loved at university in the 80s was psychology. He shared his love for the human mind with me, triggering a lifelong curiosity about how the brain works and its influence on what we do and what we say. Having my brother, who was immersed in subjects such as behavioural neuroscience, sociology, ancient mythology, theology, and others, made it easy to use him as my sounding board. He helped keep me on track by feeding me sources and references to further my interest.

The fact that our brain does things we have no conscious idea about fascinates me tremendously. From first purchasing hardcopy books and literature, then as Amazon Kindle and Audible took hold, the “buy-with-one-click” button became my obsession. The number of authors, titles, and fields that these covered was varied but were all connected to how the brain functions. As a marketer, I went down the rabbit hole of discovering how to nudge people into making a purchasing decision. Soon, I became obsessed with finding out how to control my mind to prevent making wrong or bad decisions.

It was this fascination that brought me to the realisation that we need to be more mindful and purposeful in our thinking. Having a natural tendency or inclination to behave in a particular way or to favour certain ideas, concepts, people, and objects comes from being predisposed to such behaviour. This inclination can be influenced by various factors including genetics, upbringing, culture, and personal experiences. Predispositions can shape our perceptions, decision-making processes, and behaviours, and often operate at a subconscious level.

From a neuroscientific perspective, predispositions are linked to the brain’s neural pathways, which are influenced by both genetic factors and environmental experiences. Studies in neuroplasticity have shown that the brain can form and reorganise synaptic connections in response to learning and experience. This means that predispositions can be strengthened or altered over time based on the stimuli and experiences one is exposed to.

The prefrontal cortex, responsible for complex cognitive behaviour, decision-making, and moderating social behaviour, plays a crucial role in how predispositions are expressed. Additionally, the limbic system, which includes structures such as the amygdala and hippocampus, is involved in processing emotions and memories, further influencing our predispositions and behaviours.

There are some good reasons for having these predispositions “built-in” — being second nature to us. They can help streamline the decision-making process. When we have a predisposition towards certain choices, our brain can process information more quickly, leading to faster decisions. Positive predispositions towards certain people can enhance relationships. For example, a predisposition to trust and kindness can foster stronger social bonds and support networks.

However, predispositions can also lead to biased thinking and prejudiced behaviours. For instance, someone with a negative predisposition towards a particular group may engage in discriminatory practices without conscious awareness. Predispositions can cause individuals to experience confirmation bias, where we seek out and interpret information in a way that confirms our existing beliefs, ignoring contradictory evidence. This can hinder critical thinking and objective decision-making.

To balance your predispositions, you must develop self-awareness through mindfulness and contemplation. Exposing oneself to diverse groups and activities can help challenge your predispositions. This can be achieved through travel, reading, and interacting with people from different backgrounds. Encouraging critical thinking skills can help you question your predispositions and consider alternative viewpoints. This involves analysing evidence, weighing pros and cons, and being open to changing one’s mind. Another way to broaden your viewpoint is by seeking feedback from others. Reflecting on our behaviour and decisions can provide valuable insights into how predispositions influence our actions. This will lead to more balanced and objective perspectives.

Understanding the neuroscience behind predispositions further underscores the importance of flexibility and openness to change, as our brains can adapt and evolve based on our experiences and actions. With overwhelming proof of our “idiot brain”, interrogating our predispositions to ensure we behave in a balanced and objective manner will help create open dialogue and understanding between all people.

Have a great long weekend, enjoy the two Youth Day holidays and please remember to be generous! 😄

As always, thanks for reading. 🙏

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