Why people avoid the truth about themselves
Knowledge can be a powerful weapon, but when it comes to knowledge of ourselves, ignorance is great bliss.
Sitcoms use one straightforward psychological fact that makes us laugh. The scene often looks like this: the main character tells his partner, “I would never break my ethical rules for money!”. But then there will be the same character of opportunity to break its ethical rules for money… and it will.
Why people avoid the truth
The joke is not only in the incredible hypocrisy of the main character but mainly because of her/his complete ignorance.
Watching such a scene, we can see human psychology in which people simply deny their behavior and precise information. There are three main reasons why people do not want to know or deliberately deny the visible information concerning them.
- Information requires a change of belief. Much evidence suggests that people tend to seek out and filter information that confirms their suspicions… and, conversely, not completely perceive everything that goes against their hair.
- They may require behavior that we do not want. Telling the doctor about your health problems and pain can sometimes result in painful and uncomfortable tests.
- They can cause discomfort.
All these factors can be observed in the mentioned sitcoms. On the other hand, there is a force that motivates us to learn the truth and hope for positive information. Whether or not we ultimately try to avoid the information depends on the following:
The most obvious and perhaps the most important factor. The more we expect bad news, the more we try to avoid it.
- Little control.
Less obvious, but clarifies many. If we feel we have little control over what happens, we are more motivated to avoid facts. For example, if you have to find out information about a life-threatening disease that has erupted. You cannot influence the development of the disease and therefore, do not want to know the details.
- Poor coping.
If, for example, you are not emotionally dealing with the situation you are in, you tend to avoid it.
- When it isn’t very easy to understand information, the harder it is to understand what the message is about, the less motivation you have.
It follows that sometimes people try to avoid as much as possible about themselves … and sometimes it makes sense. For example, genetic tests would tell you that you have an increased risk of cardiac arrhythmia after 70 years. Is this information useful, or is it just another thing to worry about? If there is nothing you can do, this information is likely only to deteriorate your quality of life.
The trick is to know what information to avoid and what to learn. But we cannot know without listening to the information. The problem is that once we know it and decide whether we want to know it or not, it can no longer be unlearned.
This article is not about solving this situation, it only points out why people so often refuse to know information that is uncomfortable for them. That is why we value the innocence of youth: the less we know, the less we have to worry.
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