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Why We Disagree So Often: New Study Reveals the Surprising Truth Behind our Misaligned Concepts

Mar. 20, 2023.
1 min. read Interactions

Why do we disagree? Even the simplest words have varied concepts, according to new research.

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Lewis Farrell

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Highly curious about things that increase my awareness, expand my perception, and make me open to being a better person.

A new study conducted by psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley sheds light on why people tend to talk over each other, especially during heated debates. According to the findings, even the most basic concepts, such as animals and politicians, can be perceived and described differently by people as a result of their lived experiences.

The researchers enlisted over 2,700 people to make similarity judgments about animals and politicians, and they discovered significant variation in how people conceptualize even simple animals like penguins. The likelihood that two people chosen at random will have the same idea about penguins is only about 12%, indicating that people disagree on even the most basic animal characteristics.

The study also found that people significantly overestimate the number of people who share their conceptual beliefs, which leads to misunderstandings and misaligned concepts. This finding is especially pertinent in today’s polarized society, where political words are far less likely than animal words to have a single meaning.

The study suggests that asking simple questions like “What do you mean?” can keep a disagreement on track, and that working out disagreements is critical to understanding each other’s points of view. The study is significant because it demonstrates that most people we meet will not have the same concept of ostensibly clear-cut things, such as animals, and that their concepts may be radically different.

Source: Berkley Education (link)
Images: MidJourney, Prompts by Lewis Farrell

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2 thoughts on “Why We Disagree So Often: New Study Reveals the Surprising Truth Behind our Misaligned Concepts

  1. Thanks! I didn't knew that
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  2. Asking "What did you hear me saying?" is also a simple yet efficient way to help staying on the same page.
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