Consider Perspective Along With Advice To Defeat Your Own Bias

Everyone has an opinion, and everyone iss willing to share it with you — especially when you ask for their advice. The key, however, is to remember that along with other people’s advice comes their entire point of view, even when their perspective contradicts your own.

Photo by Matt.

When we discussed how you can beat back confirmation bias and get to the truth, we touched on the point that even when we ask for advice, we’re less likely to take it when we already have a pre-concieved idea of what we want to hear. That’s not news: you probably know someone who asked you for an honest opinion, dismissed it the moment they disagreed with you and did what they wanted anyway.

The real question is: how do you beat back that bias and accept the advice of others? Over at Psychology Today, Art Markman explains that it’s key to take the perspective of the advice-giver into account, and when giving advice, you have to ask the recipient to think about it from where you’re sitting:

In order to help yourself take advice, then, you really need to try to take someone else’s perspective when making a decision. You have to realise that you are going to have a bias to stick with your own initial opinion. Rather than looking for advice that agrees with what you already hope to do, try to imaging the situation from the standpoint of someone else.

To support the point, he cites a 2012 study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, where researchers Ilan Yaniv and Shoham Choshen-Hillel concluded that in many cases, all it takes to get past our own bias when taking advice and feedback from others is to consider their perspective. They note that its not perfect, but the first step in defeating confirmation bias is make a concerted attempt to step back and away from our own ego and think about how the advice-giver’s experiences, personality and history play into their suggestion — essentially to “walk a mile in their shoes”. So finally there’s experimental truth to back up the old adage.

To Take People’s Advice, Take Their Perspective Too [Psychology Today]

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