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You can’t really put yourself in another person’s shoes, here’s why

Do you often put yourself in another person’s shoe? It may not help you understand what the other person is thinking or feeling, says this new study.

sex and relationships Updated: Jun 24, 2018 14:29 IST
Indo Asian News Service
Psychology,Mental health,Health
Gaining perspective directly through conversation is a more accurate approach, say the researchers.(Shutterstock)

Do you believe that putting yourself in someone else’s shoe and understanding their point of view will help you know them better? Scientists claim that such an approach may be inaccurate. The study showed that relying on intuition or gut instinct is not an accurate way to determine what other people might be thinking or feeling.

“We incorrectly presume that taking someone else’s perspective will help us understand and improve interpersonal relationships,” said the team from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. The study debunked the previous held theories that viewing a situation from other person’s view to understand their thoughts, feelings, attitude, or mental state, is a correct approach to interpersonal insight. Rather gaining perspective directly through conversation is a more accurate approach, the researchers said.

The study, published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, included an exhaustive series of 25 experiments designed to separate accuracy from egotism. The team asked participants to adopt another person’s perspective and predict their emotions based on facial expressions and body postures, identify fake versus genuine smiles, spot when someone is lying or telling the truth, and even predict a spouse’s activity preferences and consumer attitudes.

“Initially, a large majority of participants believed that taking someone else’s perspective would help them achieve a more accurate interpersonal insight,” the researchers said. “However, test results showed that their predictive assumptions were not generally accurate, although it did make them feel more confident about their judgement and reduced egocentric biases,” they explained.

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First Published: Jun 24, 2018 14:28 IST