Beliefs are based on four key components—perceptions, emotions, cognitions, and social interactions—which are also deeply interconnected. These components all intersect in the workings of the human brain, which enables us to have all of our beliefs. Our beliefs begin to develop the moment that we are born, and we are preprogrammed to believe in certain ways. However, these ways are shaped by everything we think, feel, and experience over our lifetime.
The brain also requires beliefs in order for us to survive. We need to hold beliefs about how the world works throughout our entire life. We need to expect certain things to happen, such as a person being nice to us if we are nice to them. But we can also have beliefs about meaning and purpose in life, about religion, and about the deep complexities of the universe. Because our beliefs are so important to our survival, we have a tendency to hold those beliefs very strongly, even when presented with opposing opinions or facts. Yet the brain is also capable of changing beliefs if we are open to new ideas and respect the beliefs of others.