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Be careful how you explain yourself, especially to yourself

I've always loved the Whitman quote, "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes." Tq130615eyOnce you accept the idea you have multiple identities, then you may have to get used to being unacquainted with some of them! We shouldn't rush to explain ourselves or have a reason for everything we do or think or feel. And we especially shouldn't feel stuck with it.

Mindhacks: When giving reasons leads to worse decisions, 2013-Jun-11, by Tom Stafford

The moral of the story isn’t that intuition is better than reason. We all know that in some situations our feelings are misleading and it is better to think about what we’re doing. But this study shows the reverse – in some situations introspection can interfere with using our feelings as a reliable guide to what we should do.

And this has consequences in adulthood, where the notion of expertise can mean struggling to discern when introspection is the best strategy. The researchers who carried out this study suggest that the distorting effect of reason-giving is most likely to occur in situations where people aren’t experts – most of the students who took part in the study didn’t have a lot of experience of thinking or talking about art. When experts are asked to give reasons for their feelings, research has found that their feelings aren’t distorted in the same way – their intuitions and explicit reasoning are in sync.

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