“I see it this way”: our perception creates a distorted reality
Man among people
In the world of business and politics, in families, that is, everywhere, where at least from time to time there are disagreements and conflicts, we can hear the opinion that perception is a reality. Such a statement is often used to legitimize personal perceptions, sometimes at odds with reality. This is a baton that we hit on others, choosing our personal so-called “reality”, says Jim Taylor, a professor at the University of San Francisco.
Calling himself “the man of the word”, he offers with words and start. Obviously, the concepts of “perception” and “reality” have different meanings. Perception occurs in the mind, where the flexibility of thinking gives rise to beliefs and beliefs about what is happening in the objective world. And reality lives outside of our consciousness, and manipulating it is not so simple. Equating perception with it is like giving up enlightenment and rolling back into the Middle Ages, Taylor is sure.
Everyone lives in their own world.
Yes, perception is not reality, but each person’s personal perception forms his personal reality. It plays the role of a lens through which we look at the world. Our perception affects many processes: the direction of attention, the processing of incoming information, memory, interpretation, understanding, generalization, decision-making and the actions that we perform.
It is clear why we are inclined to consider our own perception as real reality. But this is not true. The problem is that this lens through which we look at the world is often distorted by our genetic predisposition, past experience, basic knowledge, emotions, stereotypes, our own interests and cognitive illusions.
Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics, helped understand the psychological processes that govern human judgment and decision-making. He singled out 100 so-called cognitive illusions, under the influence of which people create their own reality, different from objective.
If we are not able to hear the dog whistling, this does not mean that in reality it does not sound
“I respect philosophers who believe that reality does not exist at all, but only its subjective reflections, because we are not capable of directly comprehending objective reality,” writes Jim Taylor. Moreover, our ability to create our reality is limited by feelings.
For example, a person sees only a limited color spectrum and hears sounds only at a certain frequency. But if we are not able to hear the whistling of the dog, this does not mean that in reality it does not sound. Thanks to technology, people in many ways are able to measure reality – although here too, opponents may object that studying the results of technical research still implies human participation and perception, but this is a topic for another discussion.
How is this dangerous?
Taylor poses the key question: “What is wrong with perceptions that deviate from reality?” Indeed, what is bad if a person perceives the world in his own way? The answer is ambiguous and rather depends on the degree and direction of distortion. For example, one of the psychological theories claims that the so-called positive illusions that reasonably overestimate a person’s potential can bring some psychological and practical benefits – in particular, give hope and increase stability.
However, if perception goes too far from reality and from weak illusions goes to serious errors, it becomes a burden. Under his influence, a person may set unattainable goals for himself or not carry out the necessary training before performing serious tasks. In fact, a serious discrepancy between perception and reality can lead to disability – some mental illnesses serve as an example.
People with different beliefs are each immersed in their own reality, and normal dialogue is almost impossible.
At the social level, the following happens. When individuals or entire groups have too different realities, they cannot solve serious and urgent problems – there simply are no points of contact for this. This often happens in politics: people with different beliefs are each so immersed in their reality that it is almost impossible to organize a constructive dialogue and make a single decision. The result is inaction or outright hostility and hate crimes.
On a global scale, it’s even more serious: representatives of different countries have a huge gap in their perception of reality, and all this leads to a slow but steady disintegration of forces, which ideally should keep the world community together. This gloomy and popular topic is reflected in cinema, literature and our modern world.
What to do?
Taylor sees an important task in ensuring that perception – our own and that of other people – remains close to reality. He suggests keeping a few simple tips in mind:
- You should not assume that your perception is objective reality – it is only your own “reality”.
- Respect other people’s perceptions – they may be right.
- Do not become attached to your perception – it may be erroneous. It takes courage to admit it.
- Realize what your cognitive distortions can distort the picture of reality. Understanding “interference” will help to better relate perception to reality.
- Test your perception. Can it withstand a rigorous study through a “microscope of reality”?
- Double-check yourself by contacting specialists and those you trust. But keep in mind that your close friends probably have a similar perception.
- Be open to a change in your perception if there are good reasons for this. The rigidity of consciousness is far worse than wrong.
“When the next time others, defending their position, tell you that perception is reality, answer that it is only their perception – but certainly not objective reality,” Taylor suggests. A tip that is definitely worth taking.
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