Nautilus

Taking Another Person’s Perspective Doesn’t Help You Understand Them

To understand someone, we should not imagine their point of view but make the effort to “get” their perspective.Pixabay / Public Domain

No moral advice is perfectly sound. The Golden Rule—do unto others as you would have them do unto you—is only as wise as the person following it.

A more modern-sounding tip—take the perspective of others—can seem like an improvement. It was Dale Carnegie’s (it is “a formula that will work wonders for you”), and Barack Obama trotted it out at the United Nations when discussing Israel and Palestine (“the deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in each other’s shoes”). Perspective-taking avoids the Golden Rule’s flaw—its effect doesn’t hinge on the integrity of the person considering it. And it’s an inducement to selflessness, in that you’re encouraged to exchange your frame of reference for that of another. Perspective-taking increases the odds you’ll with the person whose shoes you’re stepping into, on your own biases and , and automatic expressions of racial bias.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus5 min readScience
In Brain’s Electrical Ripples, Markers for Memories Appear
Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog. It’s very easy to break things in biology,” said Loren Frank, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco. “It’s really hard to make them work better.” Yet agains
Nautilus17 min readTech
Who Will Design the Future?: AI will be staggeringly diverse. Its developers should be, too.
Ada Lovelace was an English mathematician who lived in the first half of the 19th century. (She was also the daughter of the poet Lord Byron, who invited Mary Shelley to his house in Geneva for a weekend of merriment and a challenge to write a ghost
Nautilus11 min readScience
A Novelist Teaches Herself Physics: To explore loss and mystery, Nell Freudenberger journeyed into the atomic world.
Helen Clapp, a professor of theoretical physics at MIT, recounted the biggest news of 21st century physics, the detection of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), an international collaboration of scie