The Human condition -part 6 (On jumping to conclusions) S N Smith
Another part of the human condition is that people jump to conclusions.
The term “jumping to conclusions” is when someone decides something is true, or make a final judgement about something or someone, before having enough information to be sure they are right.
In other words, it means to reach unwarranted conclusions without being in possession of all the facts.
When one jumps to conclusions, decisions are made without having enough information to be sure that the decision is right and thus give rise to bad or rash decisions.
Another way of putting it is the failer to distinguish between what one has observed first hand from what they have only inferred or assumed.
It is basing a conclusion on flimsy evidence.
It is an arbitrary filling in of the blanks with no valid or concrete justification for doing so.
It is a work of the imagination.
There are at least three sub-types of jumping to conclusions.
One sub-type involves mind-reading where people claim to possess special knowledge of the intentions or thoughts of others and thus claim to know their inward motives.
Another sub-type is fortune-telling where people predict the outcome of something will be negative before they have any evidence to suggest that may be the case and are quite inflexible in their insistence that they are right.
And finally, a third sub-type of jumping to conclusions is labelling, which involves, for example, overgeneralizations about the members of a particular group by observing characteristics or behaviours seen in some members of that group.
I can assure you that you have already done this to others and it has been done to you.
The practice is totally unfair and irrational as it is based on very flimsy and even non-existent evidence.
It is filling the blanks regarding what is not known with things that are simply made up by inference or guesswork.
When this practice is directed toward you it is very hurtful, isn’t it?
You feel slighted, hurt, angry and totally misunderstood.
But you justify doing it to others even though there is, in fact, no justification for doing so.
I wish to remind you that you can never really know someone on the inside no matter how close you are to them.
It is folly to think you fully know someone when in fact you don’t even know yourself most of the time.
Consider the concept of “Illusion of Asymmetric Insight.”
This involves the tendency to perceive one’s knowledge of others to surpass other people’s knowledge of them.
In other words, we think we know someone better than he or she knows us.
There is also a term used by social psychologists called the “Illusion of transparency,” in which there is a tendency for people to overestimate the degree to which their personal mental state is known by others.
It also involves the tendency for people to overestimate how well they understand others’ personal mental states.
In addition, there is a term in behavioural psychology called “Fundamental attribution error.”
The fundamental attribution error occurs when we overestimate how much a person’s behaviour can be explained by dispositional factors.
It involves a failure to adequately consider the role of some situational factors that may affect a person’s behaviour.
Basically, this fundamental attribution is an error in how we explain a person’s actions.
A person’s behaviour is explained by an individual’s internal factors without taking into consideration the impact of external factors.
So the question involved is, is someone behaving in a particular way because of their personality, or because of some effect from their environment?
The error in thinking is that we humans have a tendency to automatically associate behaviour with internal factors, rather than external, almost by default.
This is based on unfounded assumptions and is a form of jumping to conclusions.
One thing will remain constant and certain throughout any such discussion on jumping to conclusions — humans are never as objective as they might claim to be, and try as we might, we’re all prone to different types of attribution errors.
When we make negative assumptions about someone without being fully supported by facts, we are, in essence, lying about them and even participating in slander.
How would you feel if someone did that to you?
Of course, part of human communication is learning how to read one another even non-verbally, but it is always risky.
We make inferences and assumptions based on the information we have available and then have to rely on guesswork in order to read or assess someone.
A lot of mistakes in communication are made when we equate our assumptions with factual knowledge.
In almost every social situation we are misreading and being misread on a continual basis.
We must be open to the idea that our negative opinions of others may be wrong as we do not see the complete picture of who someone is, even as others don’t fully know us.
When we jump to conclusions we, in essence, arrive at a conclusion without taking the needed time to reason through the fallacious argument we have formulated in our minds.
And then, even our eyes can deceive us, as this funny clip highlights: