Barriers to Understanding: The Judgment of Rationality and the Role of Three Egocentric Assumptions
In seven studies, I examined the impact of three egocentric assumptions on a perceiver’s judgment of a target’s rationality. First, I hypothesized that perceivers assume that their reasoning is accurate and use that as a standard to judge a target’s reasoning. Second, I hypothesized that perceivers assume that the target has the same goals as them. Third, I hypothesized that perceivers assume that how they perceive the situation is accurate and is how the target has perceived the situation. The first three experiments examined the assumption of valid and shared reasoning and its impact on the judgment of rationality by measuring reasoning ability and having participants view a (correct or incorrect) completed test of a single target (study 1), a target group (study 2) or their target ingroup/outgroup (study 3). I found that perceivers use their own reasoning, even if faulty, as a standard to judge others’ reasoning, particularly for perceivers with strong reasoning skills. For perceivers who are poor at logical reasoning, seeing that a group of people reasoned differently than them, particularly their ingroup, reduced this tendency. The fourth study assessed the assumption of valid and shared goals and its impact on the judgment of a target’s rationality. Pairs of participants completed a building blocks task, though both participants were provided different task goals, and then rated their partner’s rationality. Participants who were later informed that their partner had been working toward a different task goal, rated their partner as more logical than when they were uninformed. Studies five, six and seven examined the assumption of naïve realism by examining the conditions that increase and decrease naïve realism (study 5) and the impact of naïve realism on the judgment of rationality (studies 6 and 7). First, I found that naïve realism increases when perceivers have more exposure to a situation and decreases when perceivers learn of an alternative interpretation of the situation. Second, I found some support for a causal relationship between naïve realism and the judgment of the rationality. Implications for theory and everyday life are discussed.