How Our Minds Trick Us

How our minds trick us

Understanding of the world around us is a completely subjective thing. We all know that. And yet we often fall victim to some illusions that our own minds create which affects the way we perceive the world and interact with others. The first step of working on being more objective is being aware of the existence of those illusions. Let’s explore some ways in which our minds make us more vulnerable to biases.

The majority Illusion

What we find appropriate, beautiful or even moral vastly depends on the way the majority of the society looks at these. But what if we actually base our understanding of “majority” on a minority. Let me explain. Think of your Instagram. If you are interested in fashion, you will be following a lot of fashion accounts and the majority of your feed will be overflowing with stylish people. It may seem to you that most of the people in the world have a great taste and loads of money to afford what they like. In reality, these people are actually a minority, but you choose to surround yourself with their lifestyle. It is very important to understand the limits of these lifestyles and learn more about the general society by expanding your network. This way you will never feel bad that you are different from that rich, model-like, stylish “majority”.

Illusion of transparency

This illusion deals with us overestimating how well others can notice our mental state from non-verbal cues. This happens because we expect everyone to experience the world like we do. Many experiments have shown that people overestimate how well others can recognise their lies, how much attention others pay to them in the street, how noticeable their fears and anxiety are. This means that the next time you expect your partner to know that you ae upset, leave a possibility that it is actually not that noticeable, instead of thinking that he/she doesn’t pay enough attention. 

Positive Illusions

Positive illusion means being unrealistically positive in 3 aspects:

– Self

This means that we all believe that we have many more positive qualities rather than negative ones. We also tend to rate our positive qualities as above average (e.g. smarter than most people) and tend to minimise our negative qualities (e.g. less driven by greed)

– Ability to control the environment

We tend to exaggerate our own importance in bringing about desired results, that sometimes are not connected to us in any way. Moreover, we often credit ourselves when things go right, but avoid taking responsibility when things go wrong. 

– Future

We all believe that our futures will be great. Sometimes we are overly optimistic about our expectations, even when statistics tell us not to be. 

On the one hand, positive illusions could lead to higher perceived well-being, improved performance, healthier interpersonal relationships and better coping strategies. On the other hand, excessive positive illusions can cause poor life choices and even development of narcissism. 

If you try and notice these illusions in your daily life, it will be easier to take them under control and become more objective in your judgements of the world.

Meanwhile, pay attention to your illusions and stay safe!

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