Originally posted 11th April 2011
I think I have spoken before about assumptions, especially as they relate to stereotyping and social conditioning but it is something I have been thinking about again so I thought it warranted another go. This thought process has been backed up by the OU study I am doing on systems thinking which has introduced me to the idea of thinking traps. Firstly I want to introduce today’s picture, it is an image that show that some assumptions are fundamentally flawed…
Namely the assumptions that sheep can read maps! Incidentally Mike was actually showing the sheep the route we were taking…
Anyway I was thinking about the assumptions we make every day without thinking about them, we assume that it is safe to pull onto a roundabout in front of a learner driver because they are probably hesitant, we assume that a group of teenage boys outside a shop are going to be trouble, we assume that gravity is going to keep on working and that the sun will come up in the morning. My question to you is: is it possible to live our lives without making assumptions? It would be nice to think that we could as our assumptions are often based not on experience but on social constructs that are ingrained in our being.
One of the thinking traps that has been mentioned on the course I am studying is “group-think” the tendency of people to seek out opinions that back up their own ideas, and generally to go along with the majority. It is this majority view that often informs our subconscious assumptions.
It possibly inevitable that we will make assumptions throughout our day but I think we should take care to remember that these assumptions, especially if they are about people, will more often than not be wrong. Clinging stubbornly to flawed assumptions is more dangerous than making them in the first place. Try not to make them but accept that you probably will. Don’t be afraid of changing your mind!
Incidentally: the assumption that I would give up wearing two watches was flawed…I still am. Also my assumption that no one would notice was also flawed!