Why doesn’t everyone see the world the same way? – europazeit.news

People often misinterpret their own perceptions of people and situations as objective facts and not just their own interpretation.

UCLA psychologist Matthew Lieberman explains why people may perceive things differently.

Why are we so sure that the way we view people, circumstances, and politics is right, and the way others see them is wrong?

According to a recent study by psychology professor Matthew Lieberman of the University of California, Los Angeles, the answer lies in a part of the brain he calls the “gestalt cortex” that helps people understand ambiguous or incomplete information – and reject alternative interpretations.


The study, based on an analysis of more than 400 previous studies, has been published in the journal Psychological review.

People often confuse their own perceptions of other people and events with objective fact, not just their own interpretation. People who experience this “naive realism” phenomenon feel that they should have the final say on the world around them.

“We tend to be irrational in believing in our own world experiences and seeing others as misinformed, lazy, unreasonable or biased when they don’t see the world the way we do,” Lieberman said. “The evidence from neural data is clear that the gestalt cortex is critical to how we construct our version of reality.”

The gestalt cortex is located behind the ear, between the parts of the brain that process image, sound, and touch. Source: Matthew Lieberman / UCLA Psychology

He believes that the most overlooked cause of conflicts and distrust between people and organizations is naive realism.

“When others see the world differently from us, it can pose an existential threat to our own contact with reality and often leads to anger and distrust of others,” Lieberman said. “When we know how a person views the world, his later reactions are much more predictable.”

While the way people understand the world is a constant topic in social psychology, the mechanisms underlying the brain have never been fully elucidated, Lieberman said.


Mental activities that are consistent, effortless, and based on our experiences tend to occur in the gestalt cortex. For example, a person may see someone smile and, without thinking clearly about it, realize that the other person is happy. Since these conclusions are immediate and effortless, they tend to be more “seeing reality” – although happiness is an internal mental state – than “thinking,” Lieberman said.

“We believe we saw things as they are, which makes it difficult to appreciate and even consider other perspectives,” he said. “The mind highlights its best answer and rejects competing solutions. The mind may initially perceive the world as a democracy where every alternative interpretation is voted on, but it soon ends up as an authoritarian regime where interpretation rules with an iron fist and resistance is crushed. When it comes to choosing an interpretation, the gestalt cortex literally inhibits others. “

Earlier research by Lieberman found that activity in the gestalt cortex is less similar when people disagree with each other – on political issues, for example – than when people disagree. (This conclusion was supported by a 2018 study in the journal
The gestalt cortex is located behind the ear and lies between the parts of the brain that process sight, sound, and touch; These parts are connected by a structure called the temporal-parietal junction, which is part of the gestalt cortex. In a new study, Lieberman suggests that the temporo-parietal connection is critical to conscious experience and that it helps to organize and integrate the psychological characteristics of the situations people see so that they can understand them with ease.

He said the gestalt cortex is not the only area of ​​the brain that allows people to quickly process and interpret what they see, but it is a particularly important area.

Understanding the “social brain” with neurosurgical images

In a separate study published in the journal in April Nature communicationLieberman and colleagues discussed how, given our complex social worlds, we are able to socialize with relative ease.

Using the first large-scale neurosurgical recordings of the “social brain”, Lieberman, UCLA psychology student Kevin Tan and colleagues at Stanford University showed that humans have a specialized neural pathway for social thinking.



Lieberman, author of the best-selling book Social: Why Our Brains Are Connected, said that humans are inherently social and have the remarkable ability to judge the mental state of others. This ability requires the brain to process a large number of inferences from many idiosyncratic clues. Why does this process often seem so easy compared to simple tasks like basic arithmetic?

Clear answers were elusive to those studying social neuroscience. One of the culprits may be scientists’ reliance on functional MRI, which scans effectively where brain activity occurs but is less effective at detecting the timing of this activity.

The researchers used a technique called electrocorticography to record brain activity with thousands of neurosurgical electrodes on a millisecond and millimeter scale. They found that the back-to-front neurocognitive pathway of the brain is especially active in areas closer to the front when people think about the mental states of others.

Their findings suggest that the temporo-parietal junction can provide a quick and effortless understanding of other people’s mental states, and that another region, the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, may be more involved in slower and more accurate thinking.


References: “Seeing Minds, Matter and Meaning: The CEEing model of pre-Reflective Subject Construal” by Matthew D. Lieberman, July 2022, psychological review.
DOI: 10.1037 / rev0000362

“Similar Neural Responses Predict Friendship” by Carolyn Parkinson, Adam M. Kleinbaum, and Thalia Wheatley, January 30, 2018, Nature communication.
DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-017-02722-7

“Electrocorticographic Evidence of a Common Neurocognitive Sequence for mentalizing about self and others” by Kevin M. Tan, Amy L. Daitch, Pedro Pinheiro-Chagas, Kieran CR Fox, Josef Parvizi and Matthew D. Lieberman, April 8, 2022, Nature communication.
DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-022-29510-2

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