Why We Hate to be Wrong

by | Resources

Some people may experience a sense of failure or shame when they are wrong. In essence, instead of seeing themselves as being incorrect about a certain event or situation, they may globalize that experience into “I am wrong” (i.e., who I am is wrong). This is problematic and negatively impacts self-esteem.

The fear of being wrong can make it harder for our brains to absorb information. Our emotional brain (i.e., limbic system) does not think logically; when we “emotionally think,” we think in extremes — we have difficulty seeing shades of gray. Therefore, received information is likely distorted and not seen or heard objectively.

Biases and stereotypes are mental shortcuts. Biases allow us quickly to scan or absorb information from the environment without making conscious effort to go through all the facts. Biases are ingrained and people seldom challenge their own way of thinking. As a result, it’s hard for us to admit when we’re wrong because we’re often not aware another possibility/viewpoint exists or can exist. Or we simply don’t care…

Some people reject factual information if it’s not in-line with their worldview because they feel threatened when information counters their biases. Out of a sense of ego protection, we may hold such biases/beliefs even tighter, instead of being open to the fact that multiple world views outside of our own, exist.

Learning does not occur without humility. Arguably, we cannot be right 100% of the time. It’s not possible. It’s important to receive information with objectivity/a sense of neutrality in order to avoid making faulty interpretations about new information. It’s also important not to tie one’s self-esteem to being right or wrong. If we can learn to be confident when we’re right or wrong, as well as humble when we’re right or wrong, this can surely help us become better at being open, changing our minds, and accepting when we are wrong.

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