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#introspective ✱ Elephant in the Brain

more like strangers to ourselves

A social psychologist Timothy Wilson made a long career studying the perils of introspection. In his “Strangers to Ourselves” (2002), he writes about the “adaptive unconscious,” the parts of the mind which lie outside the scope of conscious awareness, but at the heart of our psychosocial problems, giving rise to many of our judgments, emotions, thoughts, and even behaviors. We pretend we’re in charge, both to others and even to ourselves, but we’re less in charge than we think. We pose as privileged insiders, when in fact we’re often making the same kind of educated guesses that any informed outsider could make. We claim to know our own minds, when, as Wilson says, we’re more like “strangers to ourselves.”