Why Open-Mindedness is Important in Learning

Why Open-Mindedness is Important in Learning

Every learner should be open-minded because it is a very important and beneficial trait. This article will teach you the value and importance of being open-minded when learning.

What causes narrow-mindedness?

A video narrating an Athene study describes the social brain. According to this study, specific neurons and neurotransmitters in the brain, such as norepinephrine, cause us to go into a defensive mode when we believe our thoughts need to be protected from the influence of others.

In fact, when we disagree, the chemicals that are released in the brain are the same ones that try to ensure our survival in dangerous situations. The more primitive part of the brain interferes with rational thinking during this defensive state. And the limbic system is capable of erasing the majority of our working memory. In fact, this physically causes “narrow-mindedness.”

This effect can be seen in politics, religious conflict, gambling, warfare, or simply when someone is obstinate in a discussion. When the brain is in this state, no matter how valuable an idea is, it has difficulty processing it.

Our brain reacts on a neural level as if someone or something is threatening us. Even if the threat is posed by inoffensive opinions or facts that we would otherwise find useful and could rationally agree with.

Social validation and self-esteem

When we express ourselves and people appreciate our opinions, however, these defense chemicals in the brain decrease. And dopamine neurotransmission activates reward neurons, giving us a sense of empowerment and increasing our self-esteem. In general, our beliefs have a significant influence on our body chemistry. Indeed, it is because of a person’s beliefs that placebos, which have no real physiological benefit on an ailment, can be so effective.

The neurotransmitter serotonin is closely linked to self-esteem. When the lack of it becomes severe, it frequently leads to depression, self-destructive behavior, or even suicide. Social validation raises dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain. It also makes it easier for us to let go of emotional attachments and become more self-aware. Self-awareness is the conscious understanding of one’s own personality, feelings, motivations, and desires.

The Advantages of Being Open-Minded in Learning

Open-mindedness is a willingness to consider new ideas. It refers to how we approach and consider the perspectives and knowledge of others. An open-minded person would listen to her opponent in a debate to see if the information makes sense or if she needs to change her mind.

When you keep an open mind, you relieve yourself of the burden of always being in complete control of your thoughts. This allows you to encounter new ideas, thoughts, and opinions, even if they contradict your current beliefs. And this is critical for learning.

Although it requires you to admit that you don’t know everything, open-mindedness allows you to learn much faster. In fact, the sensation itself gives you a sense of liberation. Interestingly, Gerry Spence expresses this sentiment in a quote: “I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than a mind closed by belief.” When your beliefs or the beliefs of others do not limit you, you can learn more about reality and the world around you.

Furthermore, the psychological benefits of an objective belief system include increased self-awareness without attachment to personal beliefs and opinions, as well as dramatic increases in mental clarity, social conscience, self-regulation, and the ability to “be in the moment.” In other words, open-minded people learn more effectively.


Being open-minded can be difficult at times. This is due to the fact that most of us are raised with a set of beliefs and values. Furthermore, we tend to surround ourselves with people who share our values and beliefs throughout our lives. Our brains have the ability to strengthen and habituate our most frequently triggered thought patterns or neural pathways. As a result, even when ideas that contradict our beliefs are more reasonable and rational, we may find it difficult to consider them objectively.

Nonetheless, as we’ve seen in this tutorial, we are not fixed entities and can change the wiring of our brain. Allowing yourself to be more open-minded will make it easier to recognize different ideas and, eventually, accept verified ideas and more rational belief systems without experiencing cognitive dissonance—the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes. This is an important characteristic of great learners.