Friday, August 02, 2013

We Only See the World as Black-and-White When We Are Afraid.

When people are afraid, they tend to see their problems in black-and-white terms.  They tend to block out contrasting information, and want a muscular solution.  These are the characteristics that lead to authoritarianism, which we are all prone to sometimes.

I often hear laments about the polarization and partisanship that comes from people - other people - being closed-minded, narrow-minded, or, again, seeing things only in black and white. 

As I review the psychological studies I know and the anecdotes I can think of, I have a hunch:  we only see the world in black-and-white terms when we are fearful.  When we are reasoning calmly, everyone is able to see positions in the middle.


Freud said...

Sometimes black and white thinking is about fear but probably not always. Are you engaging in black and white thinking?

gruntled said...

I am very interested in hearing alternative accounts. Got one?