Walking in Another's Shoes May Not Be Such A Good Idea

Posted on April 17, 2018

Egocentric bias occurs when we use our own experience to understand other people. This can often result in misunderstandings or miscommunications. To reduce this, we could focus on the other party's perspective instead. However, recent studies have shown that it may not always result in a better understanding of others' thoughts and feelings.

In a recent paper by Tal Eyal, Mary Steffel, and Nicholas Epley, 25 studies that looked at the difference between instructions to take another person’s perspective and a control condition in which people were not explicitly asked to do so were examined and reported.When asked by the researchers to judge the attitudes and beliefs of strangers, people given the instruction to take the perspective of the people they were judging tended to do slightly worse on the task than people who were not told to do the same.

When the participants who were asked to take the other party's perspectives were given the chance to converse with the person, however, they did a lot better than the previous times. Thus, the conclusion that was drawn was that while taking the perspective of the other party did indeed reduce egocentric bias, it did not improve the accuracy of the judgement about their thoughts, feelings, or opinions. To accurately grasp these concepts would require some communication between the two parties.

Category(s):Life Purpose / Meaning / Inner-Guidance

Source material from Psychology Today

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