Who knows you best? Not you, say psychologists #in

Know thyself. That was Socrates’ advice, and it squares with conventional wisdom. “It’s a natural tendency to think we know ourselves better than others do,” says Washington University in St. Louis assistant professor Simine Vazire.

But a new article by Vazire and her colleague Erika N. Carlson reviews the research and suggests an addendum to the philosopher’s edict: Ask a friend. “There are aspects of personality that others know about us that we don’t know ourselves, and vice-versa,” says Vazire. “To get a complete picture of a personality, you need both perspectives.” The paper is published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

It’s not that we know nothing about ourselves. But our understanding is obstructed by blind spots, created by our wishes, fears, and unconscious motives—the greatest of which is the need to maintain a high (or if we’re neurotic, low) self-image, research shows. Even watching ourselves on videotape does not substantially alter our perceptions—whereas others observing the same tape easily point out traits we’re unaware of.

Read the rest at psychologicalscience.org

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