When Someone Asks Us A Question
Questions hijack our thoughts and our unconscious mind goes to work. Before we know it, someone’s question has conjured new thoughts and ideas. We might imagine something related to the question itself or we might imagine possible solutions.
Whatever we imagine, these thoughts are the result of us being asked the question. We are hardwired to at least think of a response to the question-based stimulus and we instinctively want to help. Our rational mind might kick to decide that we won’t respond or choose not to offer a constructive response. We might have been socially conditioned not to engage with the questioner (ever been asked for a charity donation in the street?). But our thoughts have already been shaped by the question being asked.
What Happens In The Brain?
When we’re asked a question our whole brain is stimulated and serotonin is released. This release of serotonin causes the brain to relax and makes it most able to find answers and develop solutions.
With the conditions set for the brain to respond to the question, there’s a rush of dopamine. This can have two opposite effects. On the one hand it might trigger our reward mechanism and we are motivated to go in search of the answers. On the other hand we might fear giving the wrong answer which makes it more difficult for us to think in a way that will help us provide a worthy response to the question.
Irrespective of our ‘fight or flight’ response, the question will trigger a mental reflex known as instinctive elaboration. When our brain thinks about the answer to a question, it can’t contemplate anything else
The Practical Effect Of Someone Asking Us A Question
If you’re the person asking a question then power to you. Your question is the only thing the respondent can think about. Even if you think you’re someone who can multitask, think again. Research has shown that humans are not adept at multitasking; even if we think we’re someone who is.
Have you ever asked someone a question and straight after another person asks ‘your respondent’ something else? In that situation, whose question did the respondent answer? In this situation, the respondent is not being rude if they answer the second question first; they are hardwired to respond to the most recent stimulus. Only a conscious decision to respond to the first question will change the instinctive order of things.