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In a previous post i stated that people tend to assume they know more about their realities and inner lives than they really do.

This statement can be taken in various degrees. In the weakest meaning, it is like saying that the person is not collecting the facts about her own opinions and reasons with rigor. That, although she is the most reliable source of information about herself, she is not actively engaged in the action of observing herself.

In the other side of the scale, the strongest meaning would be like saying the person has absolutely no way of knowing herself accurately through subjective means. In less shroudy terms: that everything one does know about oneself through his own means, by his own senses and sensations, is inevitably wrong.

Without qualification, this stronger meaning for “transparency bias” will probably sound too harsh. For it would imply that the person do not have control over her own actions, or, if she does, she is unaware of how and why she does, therefore being unable to do anything about herself.

Well, is it really so bad?

Not knowing what oneself does is very, very different than not doing it. For example, having no knowledge whatsoever of my motivations to like ice-cream, i still eat it and enjoy the act enormously. To make it even clearer, acknowledging the transparency bias is not necessarily tied to changing anything about one’s own behaviour.

Obviously, there are (or it is possible that there are) strategies to better deal with the lack of information about oneself. If you address that your own perceptions of yourself are biased, you can use others’ perceptions, or pass your own trough checks and filters to enhance their accuracy.

To trace a parallel, let’s remember that our perceptions of the world are also not completely dependable either, and it is still very much possible to live with it. Example: when someone hears something that does not make much sense, the first reaction is not to counter what he heard, but to ask “did i hear correctly?”.

Those strategies to deal with the bias would certainly be an enlightening addition to any personal system of ethics. But that is another matter.


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