12/27/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Hearing and Seeing What You Want

By Bill Jeffreys

Recently I have been looking into a learning theory which is new to me. It's called attribution theory. Attribution theory states that people will interpret their environment in such a way as to maintain a positive self-image. It emphasizes that a learners' current self-perceptions will strongly influence the ways in which they interpret the success or failure of their current efforts.

We know that a person's self-perceptions come from both internal and external beliefs. We also know that beliefs come from a number of areas, life experiences; culture and education are but a few. This got me thinking about the apparent need people have to maintain a positive view of their beliefs. I'm writing about this based on my conversations with some people.

No matter how succinct, factual or rational your explanation, or argument, some people hear only what supports their believe. Our beliefs are often not as rational as we'd like to believe.

Ever have an argument with a friend or a spouse. At first you think what they are saying is wrong, only to find out later you were the one who misjudged them. Beliefs are like that. They tend to narrow our perceptions so that whatever we see, or hear is first filtered through them.

It takes a willingness to suspend judgment and our first emotional response so that we may evaluate the evidence by its merit and not our beliefs. We do this so we can discover the truth of a matter.

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