Given the recent post about the power of crowdsourcing in predicting judicial decisions, for those who go against the group, there is another intriguing result: their brains light up in the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain. In “Why Do People Follow the Crowd?” a recent groundbreaking experiment found that when people “go along with the crowd” even when they don’t really agree, which often happens, it may be because hearing other opinions — even if they are wrong — can actually change what we see, distorting our own perceptions.

Using an fMRI, experimenters found that, during the moment of decision, subjects’ brains lit up not in the area where thinking takes place, but in the back of the brain, where vision is interpreted, i.e., people actually believed what others told them they were seeing, not what they saw with their own eyes.

And for those who went against the group, the fact that their brains lit up in the amygdala–the emotional center, signaled that they were experiencing “the fear of standing alone,” according to the experimenters.

So the courage to stand for what we see or believe can come from using emotional perception and regulation skills to identify and manage that fear.