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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 It’s Hard to Admit When You Are Wrong

Psychology Explains Why It's Hard to Admit When You Are

No one wants to admit that they’re wrong. It’s not a comfortable position for you to be in. When you acknowledge that you’ve made a mistake, it makes you feel defenseless, weak, and exposed.

Some say that when you admit that you’re incorrect that it makes you feel somewhat inadequate. Perhaps this is why so many people keep heated arguments and debates going when they should have been finished long ago.

It all comes down to the psychology of the situation. A human needs to feel that they’re correct, even if they’re not. Even when there is evidence that proves your wrong, why is it so hard to admit it?

Emotions Get in the Way of Logic

You’re a complex being that is driven by both instinct and emotion. How often have your feelings taken over and caused you to do or say something that you regretted later? It’s because emotions are powerful, and they can get in the way of your ability to use logic.

When there’s a topic that you care deeply about, your emotions kick into overdrive. Your reasoning skills are thrown out the window as you’re willing to argue to the bitter end over your passions. If there is something that challenges your beliefs, you may find it tough to accept that what you believe isn’t true.

For instance, you may believe that the Earth is flat when the vast majority think it’s round. You can receive proof from scientific studies, but you still feel intense about your opinions. Thus, your emotions get in the way of logic.

Galileo Risked it all For a Heliocentric Beliefs

In the 17th century, the Catholic Church was in an uproar because Galileo, the famous scientist, dared to think that the Earth was not the center of the universe. The Church believed that the sun revolved around the Earth, and since Galileo felt differently, a vast argument came about that split the people.

Galileo was right in his theories, but heliocentric beliefs weren’t commonplace, and they were against the teachings of the ministry. He was labeled a heresy and shunned.

It didn’t matter that Galileo was right, as the Church would never admit they were incorrect. They let pride get in the way, and it took more than 300 years for them to realize he was right finally. Now, you know that the sun was the center of the universe and the Earth revolved around it.

Galileo stood firm in his beliefs, but he wasn’t alive to hear his name vindicated. This story shows that when something challenges what you believe, it’s natural to reject those things. Some may even feel insulted that their beliefs are challenged.

It Takes Immense Strength to Admit You’re Wrong

When someone or something challenges you, it’s natural for you to reject them or their ideas initially. The reason is that you feel that offended, perhaps a bit disrespected, and vulnerable.

You have an instinct inside of you that believes you are correct, and you have pride in your beliefs. Even if you are incorrect, you don’t want to consider it. Did you know that admitting you’re mistaken about something takes immense strength? Have you ever been around someone that wouldn’t admit they were wrong no matter what?

Consider a child with a cookie in his mouth that tells his mom he never got into the cookie jar. The mother can see the chocolate on his face, yet he won’t admit to what he’s done. The child fears that he’s going to get into trouble, or he doesn’t want to let his mother down. To avoid disappointing his mom, he lies.

How often have you been afraid to admit your wrong about a matter because you worry that people might be disappointed in you, think you can do better, or have a different opinion of you once the truth comes out?

Your pride is afraid to put yourself in a vulnerable position so that you may know deep down inside that you’re incorrect in a matter, but you will never admit it.

Vulnerability Isn’t Always a Bad Thing.

Have you ever had a boss that made horrible business decisions, but they would never admit they made a mistake? If they were to accept their blunder, then their employees would question their authority and competency.

Being wrong shows others their inept nature and weakness. Let’s assume that a manager needed to make cuts in his trash company. He felt the logical place to make these deductions was in labor.

The current staff was given over time, and they were on the road more than before. Sure, the company saved money because it didn’t have to pay employee benefits and labor to many people. However, as a result, there were several costly accidents that more than exceeded the amount he cut from the budget.

The employees were exhausted, several quit. Indeed, finding the staff became impossible. The boss made a mistake by pulling money from an area that desperately needed it. However, it’s going to be exceedingly challenging to admit that he was wrong because the employees won’t trust him in future rulings.

How different would the situation be if he went to his staff and admitted he made a mistake and was going to correct it? It could be what was needed to turn the whole company around. Thinking that these employees will forget what happened is delusional and insulting.

Admitting to the mistake and rectifying it quickly will allow people to retain confidence. A manager must be able to develop and maintain relationships, and you can’t do that unless there is trust.

Don’t Be Afraid to Embrace Failures.

When you admit you’ve messed up, it may make things complicated for a while. Think of it like this; “if you take out the trash now, it won’t have time to sit there and stink up the place.”

You will show others your courage and character when you come forward and say that you messed up, then apologize for these actions. A leader doesn’t need to be infallible to be successful. When you accept your imperfections, you can overcome your insecurities and the fears that hold you back.

Did you know that many famous people had to admit they were wrong? History always writes about the victories, but sometimes you must consider the defeats. Remember the famed candy maker Milton Hershey? He built one of the biggest chocolate empires in the world.

People may think that he had it all and was one of the richest men in the country. However, Hershey made many mistakes along the way that cost him everything. He filed for bankruptcy two times on his dream.

The failures of those attempts might have stopped many people, but it only drove him to try harder. The third time, he learned from his mistakes and turned the chocolate world on its head with the Hershey Bar, and the rest is history. What if he didn’t admit defeat and try again?

The world might not have had a Mr. Goodbar or Reese’s peanut butter cup. Hershey is a perfect example of learning from your mistakes, picking yourself up, and trying again.

Living in a Perfect World

Part of the reason why people are so reluctant to admit their failures is that society pushes perfection. There’s nothing immoral with wanting to be a success, but it’s not always attainable. You will stumble, fall, and learn many lessons along the way.

You must learn that failing is both inevitable and necessary in life. It helps you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to grow as a person. Life brings lessons that are sometimes painful, but they are necessary.

Remember the story of Thomas Edison? He created the light bulb, the record player, electric pen, movie cameras, and tons of other things. However, did you know that his teacher told his mother that he was unteachable, and due to his mental deficiencies, he was removed from school?

However, his mother didn’t care about all his mistakes or problems. She homeschooled and taught him everything he needed to know. Though he made many errors in life and had some challenges, he became one of the great minds in history.

Final Thoughts on Learning Life Lessons and Admitting When You Are Wrong

Everyone has flaws, and you are going to make mistakes along the way. Accept that you’re not perfect and that when you stumble, life is just teaching you a lesson. It’s complicated, but once you learn to say, “I was wrong,” it will change everything for you.

People respect those people who can admit defeat, and you will respect yourself too. If all of society were perfect, then it would be a boring world to live in. There is no one else like you on this planet, so you must embrace the times you fall and use them as life lessons to arise bigger and better than before.