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Illusion of Asymmetric Insight

 

Explanations > Theories > Illusion of Asymmetric Insight

Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

We commonly believe that we understand others better than they understand us.

The rationale for this stems from our external, objective viewpoint and the assumption that the other person has a significant blind self, whilst our own blind self is small.

There is also asymmetry in the reverse situation -- we believe we understand ourselves better than others understand us and may feel insulted if they try to show they understand us more than we do.

The same effect happens for groups, where the in-group believes they understand out-groups better than out-groups understand them.

Overall, this is a position where we generally assume we know more than others, perhaps because we know more about what we know.

Research

Pronin et al found that college roommates believed that they knew themselves better than their roommates knew themselves.

Example

In an argument with another person you tell them what they are like in great detail because clearly they have very little self-knowledge. They argue back telling you things about yourself that are clearly wrong or that you knew anyway. How can people be so stupid?

So What?

Using it

Be cautious about judging others and assumptions that they do not know themselves.

Defending

When others try to read your mind, forgive them their foolishness. Do not be drawn into slanging matches.

See also

The Johari Window

References

Pronin, Kruger, Savitsky and Ross (2001)

 

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