How we (mis)understand other people

How we (mis)understand other people

Maybe like you, I enjoy the feeling that I’m right in a lot of my beliefs. Otherwise, why would I believe them? But as powerful as the brain is, and as persuasive as my personal experience is, well—me and my brain have our faults.

I just learned about a few more of them in an article on “The 12 cognitive biases that prevent you from being rational.”

A common one is “confirmation bias,” which the article defines as the “act of referencing only those perspectives that fuel our pre-existing views, while at the same time ignoring or dismissing opinions—no matter how valid—that threaten our world view.”

Another is “in-group bias,” which “causes us to overestimate the abilities and value of our immediate group at the expense of people we don’t really know.”

The author, George Dvorsky, distinguishes between logical fallacies (such as slippery slopes and circular arguments) and cognitive biases (flaws in judgment that arise from errors of memory and other sources).

Dvorsky says that some “social psychologists believe our cognitive biases help us process information more efficiently, especially in dangerous situations. Still, they lead us to make grave mistakes.” That these biases serve a function makes them harder to uproot, but, Dvorsky writes, “at least we can be aware of them.”