Cognitive Biases That Prevent Us from Building the Relationship of Our Dreams

Stockholm Syndromes

The well-known Stockholm syndrome — a phenomenon when the victim becomes attached to their aggressor — begin to acquire a certain romantic aura in the mass consciousness, although there is, of course, little romantic in this situation. In fact, the Stockholm syndrome is not a sudden love but a completely normal reaction of the body to a difficult, stressful situation. Someone becomes attached to their aggressors in the hope of their indulgent attitude, while someone adopts the principles of an invader and begins to justify them in every way, thereby rationalizing their position: “I am not just a hostage. I suffer for the right thing.”

This kind of rationalization brings a person more harm than good. For example, there are cases when hostages became so attached to the invaders that they began to prevent their own release. But the taking of hostages is still a difficult situation for the psyche, so here, the rationalization is quite justified. In addition, mutual sympathy between the hostage and the aggressor can save the first’s life. But Stockholm syndromes in everyday situations are really bad. A typical example: a woman lives with an alcoholic, an aggressive husband, suffers from beatings, tries to keep a family together, protects children, but does not leave. Even if there is a place to go. Even if there is another man who is ready to protect and care for her. Such a woman also feels a defensive reaction of rationalization: she begins to justify herself and her terrible husband. He tells herself that she loves him, that she cannot leave him alone to the mercy of fate, cannot leave children without their own father. She believes that he will definitely change. Obviously, such rationalization is a dangerous cognitive distortion which, in the end, can lead to tragic consequences.

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The illusion of transparency

You are in a situation where lying is a must. But it is very difficult for you to do it – it seems to you that people see right through you, and any involuntary movement will reveal your insincerity. Does it sound familiar? This “illusion of transparency” is the tendency of people to overestimate the ability of others to understand their true motives and experiences.

In 1998, psychologists conducted an experiment with students at Cornell University. Individual students read out questions from the cards and answered them, telling the truth or a lie, depending on the instructions on the card. The audience was asked to determine when the speakers were lying, and the speakers were asked to assess their chances to be successful at lying. Half of the liars suggested that they would crack – but, in fact, the listeners exposed only a quarter of them. And this means that the liars greatly overestimated the insight of their listeners.

Why does it happen? Most likely, it is because we ourselves know too much about ourselves. And therefore, we think that our knowledge is obvious to an external observer. However, the illusion of transparency works in the opposite direction: we overestimate our ability to recognize the lies of other people.

Fundamental attribution error

We tend to explain the behavior of other people by their personal qualities and our own personal actions – by objective circumstances, especially when it comes to some kind of blunders. For example, another person is probably late due to their non-punctuality, and your lateness can always be explained by a broken alarm clock or traffic jams. And we are talking not only about official excuses but also about the internal vision of the situation – and this approach to the matter prevents us from taking responsibility for our actions. So those who want to work on themselves should remember the existence of a fundamental attribution error.

Rebecca Howell
After working 5 years as a Software Analyst in reputed MNC, Rebecca decided to settle down and work from home. Having an expertise in business & being a life motivator, she loves to share similar stuff on our website by the means of her articles.