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  1. #1
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    Default Why We Think We Can See Through Others

    I totally stole this from Cracked.com 5 Ways Your Brain Is Turning You into a Jerk | Cracked.com

    #4. Illusion of Asymmetric Insight: We Think We Know People Better Than They Know Us

    By Pauli Poisuo January 22, 2014 592,660 views



    Have you ever met a person you could just instantly see through? Someone whose social persona is so obvious, you can practically peek behind the curtain to see the real wizard masturbating to his secret stash of witch porn? Sure you have. Everyone has. Hell, just the other day I met a dude who was so blatantly obvious, I could have whipped out a laptop and written his biography before he was finished droning on about my "right to remain silent" and "where are your pants?" In fact, when we get right down to it, aren't most people pretty transparent?

    No. They're not, and frankly, I'm a bit of a dick for insinuating that they are. I'm about to get mine, though: Pretty much everyone I've ever met is probably thinking the exact same thing about me. Every. Single. One of them.



    "You know that awful thing you did? So do we."

    Most people have this strange built-in tendency to automatically assume we're hot shit when it comes to "getting" other people. This cranial kink is known as illusion of asymmetric insight, and it causes us to genuinely think that we can see through everyone's facade and gaze directly into their innermost self. Meanwhile, we refuse to consider that they might think they can see through us in the same fashion. Which they totally do.

    It's a case of everyone thinking they're Professor Xavier, but it turns out we're a lot closer to Matter-Eater Lad.



    That matter being your own bullshit.

    The illusion of asymmetric insight is a flaw in our perception caused by the fact that we can't observe ourselves in the same way we observe others. Our brain gleefully uses this crack in our defenses to trick us into assuming that we wield supernatural powers of human understanding.

    And then it turns out that the affable dude from next door has been committing unspeakable crimes for all these years, and no one in the community ever noticed jack shit.



    "He always seemed like such a nice guy."

  2. #2
    somnium tenebris Powehi's Avatar
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    This is a great thread!

    I think it is easy for people to also feel like past judgments are correct due to confirmation bias - people keep seeing in others what they are expecting to see from their first judgments. I make this mistake with some people, when their behavior triggers distrust in me. I'll jump to a conclusion out of fear, which increases likelihood of being mistaken. There are some other ways I can be incorrect, and I tend to care about seeing people clearly, so it is something I'm working on continually.

    Although, I would say that everyone's ability to accurately perceive and judge others is not always equivalent because some people tend to be more mistaken than others. The types of things that cause mistakes include:

    1. jumping to conclusions instead of analyzing over time, based on assumptions of personal skill at judging.

    2. Using internalized prejudicial constructs in place of individual observation for the primary fodder of information.

    3. Using fear-based judgments for self protection in place of detached observation.

    4. Taking a lazy approach where you don't observe or analyze, so you take the easiest conclusion. People who put a lot of effort into observing and analyzing people will have more ideas to work with, which could make them more accurate if their process is objective enough. If it isn't then they could be even more mistaken.

    4. Having an emotional investment in the conclusion of a judgment - you want someone to be wonderful or horrible and so your perception selects for evidence to confirm the needed conclusion. This is why a lot of people are in denial about other people, thinking them more innocent than is the case. It can work in both directions.

    Circus life under the big top world, we all need the clowns to make us smile
    Through space and time always another show, wondering where I am. I'm lost without you. Journey

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    heel turn 2 Obfuscate's Avatar
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    this is interesting... you make many good points, but it doesn't change my opinion of my ability... i feel that while i am not always able to tell, when i do think i know i am most often correct... i have strong gut reactions, and spend significant periods of time analyzing them (and the "facts" that i observe)... i think my experience of frequently being able to predict what people will say or do has reinforced this to the point that it would take a pretty serious error to make me reevaluate...
    "The only intelligent tactical response to life’s horror is to laugh defiantly at it.”
    ― søren kierkegaard

    “Most men are not wicked... They are sleep-walkers, not evil evildoers.”
    ―franz kafka

    “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
    ― kurt vonnegut

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    Senior Member Smilephantomhive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Obfuscate View Post
    this is interesting... you make many good points, but it doesn't change my opinion of my ability... i feel that while i am not always able to tell, when i do think i know i am most often correct... i have strong gut reactions, and spend significant periods of time analyzing them (and the "facts" that i observe)... i think my experience of frequently being able to predict what people will say or do has reinforced this to the point that it would take a pretty serious error to make me reevaluate...
    I think analyzing you gut reactions helps you make more accurate predictions. But how do you even know if they are correct?


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    heel turn 2 Obfuscate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smilephantomhive View Post
    I think analyzing you gut reactions helps you make more accurate predictions. But how do you even know if they are correct?
    by making a large number of predictions... i think to myself "i bet you they will see that object on the ground, make a face, pick it up, and make a "joke" about how it shouldn't have been there"... then i wait for them to notice the object, i watch their face when they do, and compare the real reaction to my projected one... that is kind of an odd example, but it shows what i mean...
    "The only intelligent tactical response to life’s horror is to laugh defiantly at it.”
    ― søren kierkegaard

    “Most men are not wicked... They are sleep-walkers, not evil evildoers.”
    ―franz kafka

    “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
    ― kurt vonnegut
    Likes Smilephantomhive liked this post

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    Senior Member Smilephantomhive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Obfuscate View Post
    by making a large number of predictions... i think to myself "i bet you they will see that object on the ground, make a face, pick it up, and make a "joke" about how it shouldn't have been there"... then i wait for them to notice the object, i watch their face when they do, and compare the real reaction to my projected one... that is kind of an odd example, but it shows what i mean...
    That's what I thought. lol jk!

    That is an odd example, but I see what you mean. Can you predict more "personal" stuff. Sorry for the questions, but this kind of stuff is interesting especially since I suck at people reading.


    johari
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    heel turn 2 Obfuscate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smilephantomhive View Post
    That's what I thought. lol jk!

    That is an odd example, but I see what you mean. Can you predict more "personal" stuff. Sorry for the questions, but this kind of stuff is interesting especially since I suck at people reading.
    when it doesn't directly relate to me yes... i am able to tell how people feel about things (i confirm by experiment and questioning them)... when it comes to things relating directly to how they think of me, or what they feel about me i often feel that i have no idea... if someone "likes" me they have to be blunt, or i may never notice...
    "The only intelligent tactical response to life’s horror is to laugh defiantly at it.”
    ― søren kierkegaard

    “Most men are not wicked... They are sleep-walkers, not evil evildoers.”
    ―franz kafka

    “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
    ― kurt vonnegut
    Likes Smilephantomhive, Powehi, Maya Dawn liked this post

  8. #8
    somnium tenebris Powehi's Avatar
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    Part of why I like to re-question my own assumptions is because I know how many times other people draw conclusions about me that are completely wrong. I know human judgments can be way off even when they are absolutely certain, I know I am a human being, so I have to consider the possibility that some of my judgments are also off.

    Also, with observing people, they aren't one thing in my impression. Each individual is a dynamic system that is ever changing, so even if you get it exactly right one day, they may become a different person as time passes. When I look at a person it is like looking into a hollow planet. The vastness of what is there is so complex, shifting, layered, ever changing, so there is a way I take pause. I spend the majority of my analytical energy on subjective observations of emotions, psychology, and creative expression, so I've logged hundreds of thousands maybe millions of hours trying to understand people. I think this does result in some meaningful insights, but also, a lot of my insights are really intangible, so it isn't like making a snap judgment. It's more like getting a sense that the person feels like a mid-day sky, or maybe they feel like the metal framework of a skyscraper that's been twisted up from a tornado. There are judgments involved, and I supposed even a type of judgement in the above pictures, but I also think that every single emotion and behavior a person has is connected to their experience and inner constructs of reality, so if you don't completely understand a behavior, you aren't seeing the whole person.

    Circus life under the big top world, we all need the clowns to make us smile
    Through space and time always another show, wondering where I am. I'm lost without you. Journey
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  9. #9
    So she did. small.wonder's Avatar
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    Hmm...yes. Re: the OP, I've definitely experienced the essence of what this thread is getting at. That said, I don't think most people that I know think that they "get people", heck a lot of them don't even think about the concept of understanding others at all. The most rampant manifestation of the topic at hand that I've witnessed, could look a lot like "people thinking they see through people", but I really think it's most often "people assuming that everyone is just like them".

    I very rarely have anyone claim that they "totally get me", or that they've "figured me out". More often assumptions are made that I function the same way that they do. For instance, my Mother very, very often assumes that there are hidden meanings in things that I intend to be very simple and direct statements-- this is because she expects others to read into statements she makes, to discern what she "really means". She assumes that I communicate the same way, even after hundreds of times that I've explained that to me, "I'm okay with that" really means just that.

    There is, of course, stereotyping and snap-judgement style assumption-- that's more the style of most people's "understanding". I guess I just see that as a very shallow thought process, not one that really has an explanation for the conclusions reached. "They are a dumb blonde because they obviously are", instead of really reading the emotional cues and behaviors of a person.

    As far as anyone thinking they have a unique gift for reading people, we must acknowledge that:
    1) There are a small percentage of people who actually do have such a gift, but mass majority of people who believe that they do probably don't (as with most things).
    2) If someone does have a gift for reading people, they have probably received confirmation of this from others, not merely their own suspicions.
    3) Whatever our perception (or lack there of) in regards to the inner workings of others, it is always best to assume that we don't have the whole picture.
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  10. #10
    Complex paradigm Virtual ghost's Avatar
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    I don't think this, especially since I see that others don't see that well through me.
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