The Head Won’t Go Where the Heart Hasn’t Been

January 9, 2015 — 8 Comments

If you really want to bring about change in people then you need to appeal their hearts and not to their heads. The sharing of more information or engaging in more rational discourse on its own doesn’t appear to help people to make significant change but an appeal to values, attitudes, and feelings first can motivate people toward making changes.

The two short videos below will clearly demonstrate this point but society still struggles with this notion and as you will see from the next few paragraphs I too will ironically address this first from the cognitive perspective. Why? Well…Isn’t that what good educators do?

Educational psychologist, learning theorists, instructional designers, educators and many more learning professionals refer to Blooms Taxonomy of Learning which looks at learning from three domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor.

Blooms Taxonomy domains
Source: http://gramconsulting.com/2009/02/fun-with-learning-taxonomies/

These domains are also commonly presented in the following relationship:
domains of learning

Cognitive = Head/Knowing
Affective = Heart/Feeling
Psychomotor = Hands/Heard

Bloom intended the taxonomy to be holistic and assumed that all three domains would be included when we develop learning environments. Unfortunately, this often isn’t the case in our educational systems and most other sectors of our society.

The head, is often over emphasized and rational thinkers are held in high esteem, the heart is relegated to artists, musicians or the irrational and those who work with their hands are necessary but are limited to building and keeping our infrastructure running. It only seems rational that if you want to bring about effective change then you just need to appeal to the head–or at least this is what those oriented toward the rational would argue.

But experience doesn’t always confirm this notion. The science community is beginning to recognize the importance of the affective domain. For example the scientists within the Geoscience program at Carlton University recognize that including the affective domain in their teaching can significantly enhance learning or if ignored can hinder or prevent learning. To promote the use of the affective domain they have developed a useful site called The Affective Domain in the Classroom that points to and annotates a wide assortment useful resources and research.
affective-cognative domain-brains.v3
Source: http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/affective/index.html

This illustration of the two domains provide a good visual starting point for considering how the affective domain can be used in a scientific setting.

Enough of the head talk and onto the heart…

How to Change People Who Don’t Want to Change | The Behavioral Science Guys

I trust you will enjoy the irony of this TED talk that argues that TED talks don’t change peoples behavior.

Why TED Talks don’t change people’s behaviors: Tom Asacker at TEDxCambridge 2014

Dwayne Harapnuik

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  1. How to Patch “Hole in the Bucket” Thinking | It's About Learning - July 20, 2015

    […] change requires an appeal to the heart and I have learned through years of trial and error that the head won’t go where the heart hasn’t been (read my post for a full explanation). Even though Copeland’s article appealed to my head I had a nagging angst that while I could […]

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    […] The Head Won’t Go Where the Heart Hasn’t Been This post stresses that: If you really want to bring about change in people then you need to appeal their hearts and not to their heads. The sharing of more information or engaging in more rational discourse on its own doesn’t appear to help people to make significant change but an appeal to values, attitudes, and feelings first can motivate people toward making changes. […]

  3. How to Change Before You Have To | It's About Learning - February 24, 2016

    […] The Head Won’t Go Where the Heart Hasn’t Been This post points to the fact that while we like to believe that we make decisions based on rational thought the reality is that we are much more emotionally driven and as the title suggest that head won’t go where the heart hasn’t been. […]

  4. It’s never been as easy to be a learner | It's About Learning - July 18, 2016

    […] heart just got in the way. Personal experience and too many life lessons have taught me that the head won’t go where the heart hasn’t been regardless of how rational the argument. Life has also taught me that we are complex beings and […]

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  6. Why you need a BHAG to design learning environments | It's About Learning - November 30, 2016

    […] A big enough but still achievable BHAG will also address a fundamental motivator that you need to consider when designing a learning environment—the why. As Simon Sinek argues, people aren’t interested in what they need to do as much as they are interested in why they need to do it. Addressing the why also address the fact that we are much more emotionally than rationally motivated and that the head won’t go where the heart hasn’t been. […]

  7. When people need motivation not information… | It's About Learning - December 12, 2016

    […] Are you targeting the head or the heart? […]

  8. Science Of Persuasion – We Aren’t as Rational As We Think We Are | It's About Learning - January 24, 2017

    […] the past 10 years I have shifted my thinking based on sound research to recognize that the head won’t go where the heart hasn’t been and now I recognize that we aren’t a logical and rational as we hope to be. I really wished I […]

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