What I would like to share with you today is how important it is the attribution of meaning. And what do I mean by that? I’m referring to the conclusions that EVERYONE OF US tends to make EVERYDAY, starting from the smallest incident to sometimes the most significant instances, relationships, circumstances of our lives! And what I tend to realise most of the times, and especially after talking with many of my clients is that we tend to see, understand, appreciate things one sided MOST OF THE TIMES! It’s fascinating how easy and I would dare to say almost “automatically” people end up attributing their own, just their own meaning into things!
Research has shown that an attribution bias is a cognitive bias that refers to the systematic errors made when people evaluate and/or try to find reasons for their own and others’ behaviors. People constantly make attributions regarding the cause of their own and others’ behaviors; however, attributions do not always accurately mirror reality. Rather than operating as objective perceivers, people are prone to perceptual errors that lead to biased interpretations of their social world. Since the early work back in 1950s and 1960s, researchers have continued to examine how and why people exhibit biased interpretations of social information. Many different types of attribution biases have been identified, and more recent psychological research on these biases has examined how attribution biases can subsequently affect emotions and behavior.
Having had the pleasure to work closely with my clients and to observe their attribution of meaning, I realize that it is a very common characteristic! However if you come to think about the consequences in peoples’ lives, have you ever realised how restricting and catastrophic that is? Unfortunately it becomes catastrophic as most of the times each of us tends to become fixated with his/her own beliefs, ideas, explanation behind it that even though there tends to be ALSO another perspective related with the situations, interpretations, feelings, relationships, it seems that it almost becomes too “inconvenient” to acknowledge a different perspective… However, it is crucial to understand why this behaviour takes place, and what kind of effects it usually creates to your life, your relationship with other people, your friends, etc. What I have witnessed is that most of the times people “prefer” to support their perspective because they are too afraid to come closer to the people they love, or they are afraid that the other people might not love them back in the end… so they prefer to reject the other person in advance, as a way of protecting themselves…
But have you realised how often this unfortunate pattern of behaviour occurs in real life? Can you think whether this same pattern might have had an effect on your own life too? Can you think of the reasons behind it? Can you think of a way to act differently?
Eva Lychrou is a psychotherapist based in London and in Athens, helping people deal with family issues, relationship difficulties and self development in general.
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