When you are a narrow-minded person, life is a bit harder. If open-mindedness is a spectrum, are you aware of where you fall?

People who are narrow-minded often struggle with surprises and differences. Anything outside of the “norm” is difficult to handle and this often steers them away from trying anything new.

On the opposite end, open-minded people have an easier time accepting new ideas, which often results in a more relaxed lifestyle. If you are unsure of whether you sit closer to narrow or open-mindedness, here are six ways in which the two differ.

1. Creative abilities

Open-minded people tend to be more creative than their narrow-minded friends. Open-minded people are curious to learn new things and often develop passions in the arts.

A recent study proved that narrow-minded people are less likely able to visualize more than one thing at a time. Participants were shown a red image in one eye and a green image in the other and only the most open-minded people were able to concentrate on both at once. Those who were more narrow-minded and had less creative capacity had to focus on one color at a time while switching back and forth in their minds.

2. Reasoning and arguing

You can’t reason with a narrow-minded person because they are not open to any new possibilities. They always think they are right while an open-minded person is open to the possibility they may be wrong.

Narrow-minded people will cling on to seemingly knowledgeable sources such as religion and argue that it is a fact. Once they believe something is a fact, it is impossible for them to even humor an idea that contradicts that fact.

Open-minded people can be religious, however, they are able to think critically about new concepts and imagine circumstances from others’ points of view, even if it’s not a point of view they agree with.

3. Dealing with change

Narrow-minded people have a harder time dealing with change. They often have a strict world-view and are used to everything they experience fitting neatly inside of it.

At the same time, they feel the need to control things as much as possible. When there is a big change in their life, narrow-minded people get very stressed out as if feels like their world is being turned upside down.

Carnegie Mellon researchers Russell Golman and George Loewenstein write , “The desire for clarity is consistent with an underlying drive for simplicity and sense-making”.

When something doesn’t quite make sense to a narrow-minded person, it drives them crazy. Open-minded people, however, are up for new experiences and even excited by the unknown.

4. Opinions and judgment

Narrow-minded people are often more opinionated, which leads to their negative judgment upon others. They often see one answer or possibility as being right and anyone who goes against the current must be a lesser person.

While open-minded people can accept and appreciate that everyone is different, narrow-minded ones view different opinions as bad. To say the least, this type of person can not “agree to disagree”.

5. Curiosity

Open-minded people are fascinated by many aspects of life and learn as much as they can to feed their ever-growing curiosity. On the other hand, learning new things can be frightening for a narrow-minded person. They may hide from learning anything outside of their comfort zone as a way to protect themselves.

For example, someone who is narrow-minded may have problems studying science or history if it contradicts even one of their beliefs. An open-minded person will accept that there is more than one possibility and they may never know the answer for sure.

6. Happiness

Often narrow-minded people are too harsh on themselves as they feel that everything has to be a certain way. When reality doesn’t match their expectations, they feel let down and most of all, angry with themselves. Open-minded people will be let down by certain life experiences, however, they are usually able to let it go and move on much quicker.

After reading these six points and evaluating your life, would you consider yourself a narrow-minded or open-minded person?

If you feel you may be narrow-minded, don’t worry, as there is always room for improvement. Try surrounding yourself with more open-minded people and learning from them. They will likely be open to giving you a few pointers.

Lauren Edwards-Fowle, M.Sc., B.Sc.

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Don

    Great topic. And one that open minded people see often in others. It is difficult to form any kind of relationship when reason, consideration, and deeper thought are off the table. I’ve tried and many times, and as the old saying goes, it’s like trying to squeeze blood from a turnip. But we still try.

    I’ll insert here I watch myself closely. Exasperation can often look a lot like narrow mindedness.

  2. Avatar
    Flores

    Thank you for this wonderful explanation.If you have an open minded friends, one of the most tremendous results of that trait will be your ability to perpetually seek and discover new opportunities, new ideas, and new approaches to solving the challenges you face. I love the quote from Danielle DiPirro “I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one that is closed by belief.” 🙂

  3. Avatar
    Prudent

    Thanks Lauren… Great Topic
    But is it possible to narrow-minded and at the same time double-minded or could you please explain further on double-minded.

    Thank you

  4. Avatar
    chris

    Easier said than done. I generally don’t see a need to open up to people. You can get burned for it. In the end this world needs to be reset. Humanity lacks understanding and why should I change for anyone. I do it only for me when I am ready. I have my pride so what and yes I’m conflicted deal with it.
    It’d take a miracle for me to change but miracles don’t exist.

  5. Avatar
    Ralph Hough

    The assumption, especially for those of a religious nature, of being of a ‘closed mind’ does not comport with the definitions above. Perhaps closed minded people have been open minded before and found that ‘new’ ideas are really re-packaged old ideas that are harmful to people. For instance, the Bible speaks absolutely and most affirmingly of a husband/wife, father/mother marital relationship as the building block of society that is best for every person concerned whether it is children produced by such a relationship, citizens who are better able to be responsive and supportive of societies needs. The stability of marital relationships as a stabilizing force for society has a much higher percentage rate of success than any other ‘newly’ discovered type of relationship or familial configuration with a greater degree of personal satisfaction and mental health and yet ‘open minded’ people seem to think that it doesn’t matter or there is another way we just haven’t discovered. And then you have to ask, “Exactly how open minded are you?” to those who say they are open minded only to find out they do not want to have a conversation that considers all side of an equation! I think there are more to these assumptions that need an openness to discovery than most people think!

  6. Avatar
    Sioe Lan Teng

    I believe that being open-minded is useful, especially in these trying times with COVID-19. The whole medical world does not know how to handle, let alone kill this virus. The only thing I can do is make myself strong, physically and mentally. For this, regrettably I need to be open-minded as often as possible.

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