Our ‘Inner Chimp’ May Be Secret to Success Psychology


Have you ever procrastinated?

I would be lying to say that I’ve never spent some time in something a bit mindless. We all procrastinate from time to time, but if it consumes our life it can be down-turn to the success we can all enjoy. Why do we procrastinate? When in the midst, the action(or lack there of)seems completely validated and unchangeable. In that moment of avoidance or mindless activity we feel like we are completely validated and still know that it’s not progressing us in any way. Well, there is good news! Some research out of Harvard University by Joshua Greene, a philosopher, experimental psychologist, neuroscientist and Associate Professor of the Social Sciences has hypothesized when making crucial decisions our brains process the available information via, what Greene calls, “dual-process theory” which cites us using rational(logic) and emotional(biological make-up) to filter our situations via a pros and cons filter. Greene explains that emotional responses, which are influenced by humans’ biological makeup and social experiences, are like the presets: fast and efficient, but also mindless and inflexible. Rationality is like manual mode: adaptable to all kinds of unique scenarios, but time-consuming and cumbersome. He analogizes this model to a camera that comes with presets, such as “portrait” or “outdoor,” along with a manual mode that requires photographers to make adjustments on their own based on the situations they are presented with. Mr. Greene explains that

 “The trick is to know when to point and shoot and when to use manual mode. I think that this basic design is really the design of the human brain.”

What this points to are two ways of looking at our conditioning. First, we must make the distinction that we produce the life we have based on our current conditioning. Nevertheless, by it’s very nature conditioning is alterable when new conditioning is introduced by repeated habit forms or conscious practice. Therefore, we are able to stretch and become successful even when our pre-conditioned wiring postulates that we can’t. Therein giving us a simplistic approach to success psychology. Meaning, when we procrastinate there is a deeper reason why this occurring and, therefore once understood, we can take actions to correct the wiring.

Mr. Greene describes in his studies that we operate with two styles of thinking; our “inner chimp”(emotional, lesson logical) and the pre-frontal cortex(more logical, less emotional). The inner chimp is the biological brain development that links us closely to our evolutionary ancestors. Our pre-frontal cortex is the area of the brain that makes us distinctly humans. When we make decisions, these two areas duke-it-out for first place in an attempt to make the right decision. Neither are wrong and neither are right, problems only arise when we have to much of one or the other.

Example: To much emotion can result in less logic presented as an option. To much logic al result in no enough emotion presented as an option.

What this tells us is that there are, some feel this more than others, two parts of us(actually our brain)fighting it out inside as we make decisions every day, no matter the size of the decision.

With our primordial brain, we will tend to at on impulse or emotionally, citing that we “deserve time off” or “time to relax”. Even though this is true, time to recharge is incredibly important, this still leads to more procrastination because our “inner chimp” is attempting to sabotage our human need for growth. The proof is in the science; for we wouldn’t have developed that pre-frontal cortex, that chimps to possess, if we hadn’t attempted something of strenuous nature. In contrast, when our human brain area is in use we tend to be “cold” or “over analytical” when we set out to make a decision on something.

In conclusion…

I don’t want you to think that you can now say “It’s my inner chimp” the next time you are asked why you are procrastinating. This is piece is to offer an anecdote to WHY we feel as those this feeling is justified and nature. Simply put, it is natural. This feeling, or pull, away from activities that will propel you into success is a natural tendency to may homage to your primate ancestors. And that’s all.

The Secret?

Do you want to be more productive, successful and make an impact? The next time you feel that pull to slack off, remember that you are simply acting like a chimp and need to be honestly logical about your personal success development.


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