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Research Reveals Why Humans Often Make Wrong Assumptions

Research Reveals Why Humans Often Make Wrong Assumptions

Did you know that things are never usually as they appear? Take, for instance, social media. People can create a persona that makes them seem like they have an ideal life. Others see a family that is always smiling, enjoying each other on exotic vacations, and everything looks like perfection.

However, what you may not see behind those pictures are the financial problems, marital issues, or the out of control children. You don’t see the many nights the wife spends trying to find her husband as he drinks his cares away at the local bars. You make assumptions on things you see and hear, but can you trust your senses?

Understanding Why We Make Assumptions

Frontiers in Neuroscience explains how personal emotions influence your mindset–and in making assumptions.

Assumptions are based on your beliefs and feelings, and you project these things onto others. However, making these hypotheses is often a dangerous game as things are rarely how they seem. Why is it that humans are always so eager to jump to conclusions about others?

Let’s assume you go to the department store one afternoon. You notice a friend in there with a man that is not her husband. Instead of thinking logically that there must be a reason for this occurrence, your mind automatically sees the situation in the worst possible light.

The person with the lady in the store might be a relative, or it could be a friend asking for help in picking out something for their girlfriend. You don’t know that situation, but you are eager to judge based on only what you see.

The Self-Centered Nature of Humans

A psychological study proved that making assumptions stems from inherent biases.

So, why do people tend to jump to conclusions when they only have a fraction of the story? It’s because you see things through your perception. Everyone is a little bit self-centered, and whatever your brain tells you must be gospel.

How often have you become upset because your friend didn’t see things your way as if your opinion were the only one that counted? Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, and rather than truly listening to what they had to say, you were contemplating what you would say next?

Every person on planet earth is unique. While you may share similar traits like blue eyes or brown hair, there is no one else like you around. So, why is it that so many people expect and assume that everyone should be the same?

If someone doesn’t like the things you do or see things your way, then they are wrong. Could you be a bit negative towards those that don’t fit the classic mold, so you judge them?

Dealing with Preconceived Notions

A preconceived notion is a conception that is grounded in your experiences. For instance, you believe that you know all the ingredients in a pepperoni pizza just by looking at it. You know that you’ve made them at home, and you used flour, yeast, salt, sugar, cornmeal, and water for the crust.

You presume that whoever made this pizza used the same ingredients based on your methods. However, they may have a special ingredient in their crust that gives it that extra chewy flavor. A preconceived notion is a belief grounded in an assumption because there is nothing to back it up. Without proof or certainty, you must use your life experiences to form a conclusion.

The only problem with these notions is that you believe them to be correct, but they may be false. Additionally, these things can put you in an extremely negative mindset, and you can become critical of others. It can even affect how you treat other people.

Tatiana De Rosnay wrote a novel about how preconceived thinking alters your attitude about others. The book is called “A Secret Kept.” In this novel, she explores a brother and sister looking for information about their deceased mother.

The mother died when the duo was little, and all they were left behind with was some love letters that were written to her. Her lover wrote beautiful memos that gave them great comfort in knowing that she was loved and adored. The children believed that the person writing the letters was a man.

Years later, they were astounded to find out that a woman wrote these notes. Their mother was in a relationship with a lady. There were plenty of other clues in the letters that it was two women in love, but the children assumed it was a man doing the writing based on their preconceived concepts.

According to the NIH, the difficulty in taking preconceived notions as truths is that it can lead you to extremely negative and critical opinions about others. Additionally, those beliefs can affect how you treat others too.

5 Tips for Breaking the Negative Mindset That Leads to Assumptions

Your beliefs and prejudices come from your life experiences and your upbringing. At birth, a child knows no race, gender, or religion. They learn these things through observing and hearing their parents, grandparents, and other family members.

As a child ages, they soon learn the differences in society. Your mind also helps to form these beliefs based on things that have happened to you. For instance, if you knew a girl in school named Kennedy that was always troubled and an emotional wreck, then you might be against naming your daughter the same.

It’s not that your daughter would be a problem child, but you automatically remember a fellow student, and her actions are forever associated with that name. How often has your negative mindset caused you to make assumptions about people that weren’t true just because you had a bad experience?

Thankfully, you have the power to break this cycle and to stop making assumptions about people. Even though humans tend to be a bit self-centered, it’s possible to change your thinking. Here are some tips to help you reverse your negative thought processes.

1. Live in the Moment

Don’t allow your mind to build elaborate ideas of how people are going to be. Take time to discover a person and genuinely get to know them. So many people are judging books by their cover that they never take time to see what’s on the inside.

The sad thing is you’ve probably missed out on great friendships in life because you used your pessimistic mindset to form incorrect opinions.

2. Don’t Be Quick to Judge Surface Situations

Things are usually not how they appear on the surface. This is especially true if you do not know the situation at hand. You are programmed to look at your own life to form assumptions.

Like the lady in the department store with a guy you didn’t know, don’t be so eager to jump to conclusions. Often, your findings are not factual.

3. Find out the Truth

Rather than assume things, you need to find out the truth, and stick with the facts. If you are going to judge a situation, then make sure you have the whole story. Remember, there are always two sides, and if you’re a third-party observer, then you are probably not even close to knowing what’s going on.

4. Give Up the Judgmental Attitude

According to The Lancet,  judgmental attitude is a breeding ground for conflict. When you make assumptions and judge others, it creates tension. Think of all the potential opportunities that you have missed out on because you judged someone incorrectly. The article suggests one should work on honing judgment instead of being judgmental of others.

You could make connections and have friends that would treat you to new experiences if you would only stop assuming things and give people a fair chance.

5. Learn to Empathize

To be a good friend and relative, you must learn how to empathize with others. Consider their story and where they are in life before you assume anything. If a conflict should arise in life, the first step is to take a deep breath.

You need to talk to the person and make sure that you know the whole story before jumping to conclusions. Lastly, stop overreacting on what you think might have occurred. When you look at people through the eyes of empathy, then you can see things in a whole different light.

Final Thoughts: Stop Making Wrong Assumptions!

Each day you walk through life with notions of how things will go. Your theories have a dramatic impact on your perceptions, and these notions will often affect the world around you without you even being aware.

For instance, your boss wants you to attend a meeting to discuss something important. It’s the morning, and the meeting isn’t until the afternoon. Since your boss usually doesn’t call you into his office, you automatically assume the worst.

By lunchtime, you’ve already redone your resume, and you are sure that you’re going to be fired. Before you walk into your boss’s office, you’re having a nervous breakdown and are in defense mode.

You’ve let your preconceived ideas dictate the outcome, and you were doomed before you walked through the door. Your boss actually wanted to thank you for a project you worked on and offer you a bonus. However, your mind used previous experiences to assume what was going to happen.

In this scenario, you caused yourself a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering. It’s essential never to judge or jump to conclusions in life.


Psychology Explains Why Humans Like Judging Others

Psychology Explains Why Humans Like Judging Others

Are you a critical person? Do you like to find fault in others that stand out from the crowd or dare to be different? You may not believe yourself to be so negative when it comes to judging others, but your actions may show otherwise.

Let’s assume you’re on a family vacation, and you’re at the airport waiting for your flight. While sitting there, you see a woman and a young child. The toddler is unruly and causing quite a stir in the terminal.

The first thought that comes to your mind is that she cannot control her child. Then, you can’t help but notice that the toddler has food on her shirt, and clothes that are a bit too small. Before you know it, you pick out other imperfections.

By now, you wonder how they can even afford this flight because they could spend that money on clothes instead. See how easy it is to judge someone else? You didn’t know this woman or her story. Yet, you jumped to conclusions based on only what you saw in a few minutes together in a terminal.

Judging others is so effortless than most people don’t even realize they do it. It’s human nature to be alert and in-tune with the things around you. You were built with survival instincts. In the wild, animals notice every movement made by those around them.

According to psychology, these instincts help to keep you on guard and ready to defend yourself at a moment’s notice. The truth is that judging is something that you will do daily, and sometimes you just can’t help it. The other side of this equation is that while you are judging others, they are also judging you. Humbling thought, isn’t it?

Why Do You Judge?

You are so critical of others that you use them as a base of your view of the world. For the same reason, it’s easy for others to judge you in return. Judging others has nothing to do with them, and it’s all about you! That’s a shocking statement, but here are the reasons why you are so critical of others.

1. It Brings Out Your Hidden Feelings

Often, you will become critical of a person and then realize that you do the same thing. For instance, maybe you’re mad because someone had a million questions at the customer service counter ahead of you. You were running late, and you had to return an item.

However, when you stepped up to take your turn, you too had several questions for the worker. See how easy it is to become mad at someone and turn around and do the exact same thing? Being critical only shows your weaknesses or insecurities.

Maybe the whole irritation at the customer service counter had nothing to do with that other customer or their questions, but it had everything to do with your impatience of waiting in line.

2. You Want to Make Yourself Feel Better

Sometimes, it feels good to be judgmental. For instance, you stop at the school to pick your daughter up early for a doctor’s appointment. You go to the office to sign her out.

While you’re at the office, you can’t help but overhear a conversation coming from the inside. A child was being suspended, and the father was shouting at the child, and he was incredibly angry. You smiled with glee as your straight “A” student came to meet you.

All the secretaries were glad to see her, and she greeted them. You felt a sense of pride because your child wasn’t the one getting raked over the coals for behavioral issues. You must be a great parent to raise such a wonderful girl.

This entire scenario is based on a judgmental nature. What you didn’t know is that the child lost his mother in a car accident. His father was an alcoholic and never spent any time with him.

The student’s behavioral issues were a cry for help, and all you wanted to do was compare your child-rearing abilities to that of the other parent. You made an unfair judgment of the situation to make yourself look and feel better.

3. You Have Negative Programming

Did you know that you can program your mind to think a certain way? For instance, if you say to yourself every day how ugly you are, you will soon start to believe it. Now, if you tell yourself how amazing you are and how you can do anything you want in life, you will soon believe that too.

Your words have power. When you speak positive affirmations, your confidence increases. Many people are judgmental because their mind is programmed to see the negative in others, just as you see the terrible things in yourself.

Did you know that most judgments are made based on an outward appearance? You assume lots of things about people based on their status in society, home life, and work, and it’s only visual. The sad thing is that your perceptions skew your view.

One horrible stereotype is if a person is skinny that they are healthy and come from an affluent family. However, if a person is on the heavier side, they are unhealthy and must have an unfortunate socioeconomic position in life. Your mind automatically thinks a poor person is irrelevant.

Your heart may recognize that your mind is making a snap decision, but it’s human nature to judge those who don’t meet up to the standards you’ve set for your life.

There are times when you feel insecure. When you use your time judging others, then you can take the focus off you. Plus, it feels good to point out the faults in others and forget yours for a while.

4. It Shifts the Focus from You

The most critical crowd around happens to be middle and high school-aged students. They like to point out anything that doesn’t fit in with the normal teenager at the school. Anyone who might do their hair differently or dress a little peculiar is a target of bullying.

Bullying is an extreme form of judging someone. These kids find that when they engage in conversation that is putting others down, many teens will join in with them and give their opinions. So, it’s easy to say that judging others can also come with a sense of bonding.

Relationship experts reveal signs that someone likes you (even if they don’t say it).

5. You Lack Information

Have you ever participated in people watching? Some folks love to go to a public place and just watch others. It gives them a wide perspective of all the characters that are out there.

No one is the same, and wouldn’t it be a boring world if there were no differences. Some people watchers do it for a learning experience while others tend to be more critical. Sit on a bench at the mall, airport, grocery store, or a restaurant.

In a short period, you will see people from all walks of life. There will be many cultures, age groups, and styles observed. In those few minutes, you will make snap decisions about them based on nothing more than their personal appearance.

You may see an older woman with bright pink lipstick on and a loud yellow dress. Her colorful outfit maybe too much for your eyes, but what you don’t know is that she’s cancer-free for one year now, and she used bright colors to help boost her mood.

Of course, you had no way of knowing that, based on what you saw. You didn’t have the proper information to make an informed judgment. What if you sat down and talked to her for 10 minutes about her journey? Would you still make the same harsh judgments?

The Costs of Criticizing Others

It may seem that you can be negative about others without any recompense. However, karma is a powerful thing. Whatever critical views and opinions you meter out to others will certainly come back to you.

Being critical can make you feel horrible, especially when you hurt others. Sadly, this attitude in life helps to perpetuate stereotypes in society. All the negativity you spew out is like venom that is destroying good in the world.

Final Thoughts: Fix Your Negativity so You Can Stop Judging Other People

To fix this negative perception, you must step back and take a good look in the mirror. What is so wrong in your life that you must find fault in others? You’re not the judge or the jury, so ask yourself these questions before rushing to a verdict:

•Do I know this person?
•Am I being fair to them?
•Do I know the whole story, or am I just surmising?
•How would I feel if they thought this about me?

When you ask yourself these questions, you are interrupting your negative thought patterns. It doesn’t feel right to have others look at you and make opinions based on things they know nothing about. Rather, why not find something positive to think about that person.

To the woman with the little girl in the airport terminal, you could have asked her if she needed a hand. You should have thought she was doing a good job by having a young one by herself, as she was flying across the country. When you start looking at things through the eyes of optimism, then it will change your whole outlook.