August 12, 2009

Naïve realism

Along with the confirmation bias, the brain comes packaged with other self-serving habits that allow us to justify our own perceptions and beliefs as being accurate, realistic, and unbiased. Social psychologist Lee Ross (photo) calls this phenomenon "naïve realism." The inescapable conviction that we perceive objects and events clearly, "as they really are." We assume that other reasonable people see things the same way we do. If they disagree with us, they obviously aren't seeing clearly. Naïve realism creates a logical labyrinth because it presupposes two things: One, people who are open-minded and fair ought to agree with a reasonable opinion. And two, any opinion I hold must be reasonable; if it weren't, I wouldn't hold it. Therefore, if I can just get my opponents to sit down here and listen to me, so I can tell them how things really are, they will agree with me. And if they don't, it must be because they are biased. (Source: Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts).

1 comment:

  1. Yes naive realism is a huge obstacle in communication. Once you recognize it, however, you can usually find nuanced ways to work around it by starting with the other person's current perspective and gradually building on it. You have to recognize though, or you don't realize why you are becoming polarized with them.

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