We would all like to consider ourselves to be logical, objective and reasonably intelligent individuals. We listen to the facts, understand them and then form our own opinions and conclusions. And most of us think we do it fairly and fairly – but do we really?
The truth is that most of our arguments are driven by personal experience and outside influences. This causes a bias in our conclusions known as motivated reasoning and allows us to justify certain thoughts and feelings that we already have or want to believe.
what inspired reasoning might look like
Induced reasoning is exactly what it sounds like – reasoning inspired by something, namely our own preconceived ideas or beliefs.
In other words, it is the process that many of us employ to use information that supports what we want to believe, to come to the conclusion that we ignore contradictory things. like to do.
This does not mean that the person using motivated reasoning is acting blindly. When employed, motivated reasoning, well, sounds reasonable. It’s not as obvious as you are right about something and ignoring direct evidence that you are wrong.
Generally, there is clear evidence that can be interpreted so that it supports a person’s desired conclusion or belief. The problem is when there is also evidence that contradicts those conclusions and beliefs, and it is ignored.
One of the most widely used examples of motivated reasoning involves climate change. Depending on what you tend to believe, you may receive information to support or refute its occurrence.
While much of the information has a scientific basis, some aspects of it are used to support either a critical view or a dismissive view of what is happening with current climate changes. What you choose to quote and believe may depend on your motivation to accept or dismiss the gravity of these changes.
When motivated reasoning affects your personal life
Climate change is a big and controversial topic, so what about a more personal application? What does it look like when motivated reasoning is used in our personal lives and relationships?
One of the most common places in a relationship where motivated reasoning is employed is when one partner suspects the other of cheating. Evidence of fraud can often be ambiguous. Many behavioral or physical indicators can be seen as both confirmation that a partner is cheating or explained as normal and appropriate.
Texting all the time? Well, work is very busy – or he is making arrangements to visit his mistress. Suddenly working out and oddly happy? She’s just getting in shape and feeling better about herself – or she’s meeting her boyfriend and making sure she looks good for him.
Let’s be clear, it’s not about what you want to believe, but what you’re inclined to believe, or are inspired by. We’ll probably assume that our partner isn’t cheating, but if you’ve had experience with cheating, or you’re suspicious, jealous, or insecure, you may be more inclined to believe the worst and consider all of the indicators as such. As can be seen as proof of an affair. Whether an affair is actually going on or not is a different story.
where does motivated reasoning come from
Even if you’re the most selfless, non-egoist person on the planet, your understanding and interpretation of the world around you is shaped by how you fit yourself into it and your There is a reaction to personal feelings and reactions to those around you. In other words, your own personal bias. we all have.
It is extremely difficult to leave behind personal bias when making an argument. We interpret things based on what we want to believe, what past experience tells us is true, what we think we will do and how we think we will react in a certain situation. All of this exists even when we think we are completely objective.
For example, if you’ve had an affair or have thought about it, you’re more likely to believe that the signs you see are signs of your partner’s affair. If you were a misogynistic teen, you may more easily believe that your own children will cross the line and explain their behavior.
So, when you try to reason through things and jump to conclusions, you are naturally influenced by your own personal biases, whether you want to be or not.
how to be more objective
The most important step in avoiding jumping to personally motivating conclusions is to understand and accept that personal bias exists and you have it. Doing so will open you up to being more objective in your reasoning.
Next, make sure you’re in the right headspace to see things clearly.
- Allow any intense feelings to subside before jumping to any conclusions.
- Consider each possible conclusion and which one is most likely overall, regardless of your own feelings or desires.
- Don’t make any assumptions. Before you jump to any conclusions about anything, make sure you have supporting information and are not using guesswork or filling in the blanks with your assumptions.
- When in doubt, consider talking to someone who has a different point of view or who seems more objective than you.
We all use inspired reasoning in our lives. It is a simple human act. Unfortunately, it is also often a source of erroneous conclusions and creates problems in our lives at large and in our personal lives. So, before you assume you’re right about anything—especially something that has traumatic, life- or relationship-changing implications, take some time to examine your motivations and other perspectives.
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Author: Dr. Kurt Smith
Dr. Kurt Smith is clinical director of Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching, a Northern California counseling practice that specializes in helping men and women who love them. Her expertise lies in understanding men, their partners, and the unique relationship challenges they face today. Dr. Kurt is a lover of dogs, sarcasm, the outdoors, and helps those trying to mend their relationships.