Any idea or experience gets broadly the same treatment from our brains: lightning-quick comparison with our existing mental maps to see where the connections are. And known, familiar and expected inputs are neatly processed.
But what’s interesting is when the data doesn’t quite fit; and the sometimes extraordinary lengths we’ll go to, to make a connection. And that kind of thinking can have significant drawbacks.
- People’s internal realities lag behind changes in external realities.
- People’s maps can be based on outdated or unrelated experience.
- People’s internal representations can omit crucial information.
I’m sure we can all think of such error-prone thinking from our own experiences. The time we were in favour of an idea and turned the most tenuous of connections into fact. Or when we were thoroughly opposed to an idea and staunchly rejected strong supporting evidence as irrelevant.