We Do Not Know Our Own Minds

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We know surprisingly little about our own personalities, attitudes and even self-esteem.  When people’s personalities are measured implicitly, i.e. by seeing what they do, rather than what they say they do, the correlations are sometimes quite low.

Just like in personality, people’s conscious and unconscious attitudes also diverge.

We sometimes lie about our attitudes to make ourselves look better, but this is more than that. This difference between our conscious and unconscious attitudes occurs on subjects where we couldn’t possibly be trying to make ourselves look better.  Rather we seem to have unconscious attitudes that consciously we know little about.

Once again we say we think one thing, but we act in a way that suggests we believe something different.

Perhaps this is the oddest one of all. Surely we know how high our own self-esteem is? 

Well, psychologists have used sneaky methods of measuring self-esteem indirectly and then compared them with what we explicitly say.  They’ve found only very weak connections between the two.  Amazingly some studies find no connection at all.

It seems almost unbelievable that we aren’t aware of how high our own self-esteem is, but there it is.   It’s another serious gap between what we think we know about ourselves and what we actually know.”

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