The Battle for Your Brain - National Journal We're partisans by nature, and once we pick a side we see the world in red or blue. The NYU team is trying to show that our brains are hardwired for partisanship and how that skews our perceptions in public life. Research at NYU and elsewhere is underscoring just how blind the "us-versus-them" mind-set can make people when they try to process new political information. Once this partisanship mentality kicks in, the brain almost automatically pre-filters facts—even noncontroversial ones—that offend our political sensibilities. "Once you trip this wire, this trigger, this cue, that you are a part of 'us-versus-them,' it's almost like the whole brain becomes re-coordinated in how it views people," says Jay Van Bavel, the leader of NYU's Social Perception and Evaluation Lab. Our tendency toward partisanship is likely the result of evolution—forming groups is how prehistoric humans survived. That's helpful when trying to master an unforgiving environment with Stone Age technology. It's less so when trying to foster a functional democracy. Understanding the other side's point of view, even if one disagrees with it, is central to compromise, policymaking, and any hope for civility in civic life. So if our brains are blinding us to information that challenges our partisan predisposition, how can we hope ever to find common ground?