Psychology has provided much evidence that our partisan identities, such as whether we are Republicans or Democrats, distort our interpretations of reality (Tweet it!). But this selective perception phenomenon is not limited to the political arena. In one classic social psychology study researchers found that college football fans from Princeton and Dartmouth had strikingly different memories about the facts of a game between the two schools. When each school’s newspaper reported its own very different version of the game, researchers hypothesized that rival fans at the game saw it differently. As it turned out, Princeton students recalled the Dartmouth team had committed many more fouls, while Dartmouth students thought both teams were equally responsible. This is an example of how a partisan lens colors memory. Additional research by Jay Van Bavel, a professor of psychology at New York University, shows that our partisan biases can even color how we taste, see, hear, feel and smell (Tweet it!).
We can’t help being partisan to some extent, but we can subject our selective perceptions to checks and balances by exposing ourselves to different worldviews, and by verifying what we think we know via fact-checking.
We want to hear: Have you noticed that your view of reality diverges from that of others in your life? What trusted sources do you use to verify facts? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
If you would like to read more about creating a habit around masterful communication, check out our book: Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion.
1/10/2017 10:00:32 am
I often use Snopes to fact check - and I like to get my news from several sources. I know I suffer from partisan bias - I am much quicker to forgive "my side" for wrongdoing than the other. It is an ongoing battle. I will sometimes choose not to engage in discussions because it can quickly get emotional - and the points I am making become more suspect.
1/10/2017 04:19:22 pm
Well said Leigh! Same here. We have resolved on countless occasions to spend as much time reading news reports counter to our beliefs than confirming them. That is a tough mountain to climb!
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