Why Your Gut Is More Ethical Than Your Brain

I came across an interesting article today that has the same title as this post. Here are a few clips from the article by Dan and Chip Heath:
It's believed that to live ethically, we must engage our reason, which reins in the whims and follies of emotion. Ethics, then, is heavy on Spock and light on Sally Struthers. But what if unethical behavior is actually spurred, rather than prevented, by reason?
Before making the decision to cheat or be fair, the test subjects were given some guidance. Some were encouraged to think rationally about the situation and to ignore their emotions. Equipped with this advice, the great majority (69%) analyzed the situation and con-cluded that they should screw their partners. Others were primed to "make decisions based on gut feelings." Their guts were pretty trustworthy: Only 27% lied.

There's a twist: Even though the study shows that we would be treated better by people who trust their feelings, we're leery of them. When people were given a choice to interact with a rational decision-making partner or a gut-trusting one, 75% chose the rational partner.

Zhong concluded that "deliberative processes can license morally questionable behaviors by focusing on tangible monetary outcomes and reducing emotional influence." If only such behavior were limited to the lab.
I so agree with these sentiments. In my many years of living I have found that the mind is a great tool for math and science but a poor substitute for leading our lives. I think that the brain so often utilizes rationalization to make difficult decisions. When it comes to denying ourselves the brain often rejects the heroic and courageous impulses of the gut.

In contrast our gut, or inner being, will make different kinds of decisions. When confronted with a tough decision our gut will focus on what is right rather than what is expedient. When our ethics are tested our gut will hold firm when our brain wavers. This is why we should try to always feed and strengthen our gut and not our brain. I am not saying that we should not feed our brain. Just saying that should spend at least as much time effort in feeding our gut.

Do you spend more time feeding and strengthening your brain or your gut?


  1. I tried to live from the brain for many years, tried to "understand" God and my faith. The last few years I've been learning to live from my heart (gut), and it has made a world of difference.

  2. My gut has serviced me very well. Also think the Holy Spirit works in my "gut" or heart when it comes to some hard decisions.

  3. My gut and my brain are tied pretty closely together. I have really strong empathy and it makes it difficult for me to choose a path that would harm someone else.


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