Human Bias and Marriage Problems

There is a very simple reason why no marriage is perfect. Human beings are flawed. There is not a single man or woman alive who is not without fault. So, it stands to reason that the imperfections of both husband and wife will combine to create an imperfect union. One of the shortcomings that we human beings all share is that we are biased in our thinking. Certainly your biases can have a significant aspect on your marital relationship.

A bias is a cognitive distortion that filters one’s perception, decisions, attitude and behavior. They are preconceived notions that work on a subconscious level. Our biases cause us to interpret events, circumstances, actions of others, and so forth in ways that may not be entirely accurate or logical. Some have stronger or more evident biases than others, but we all have them to some degree.

Both in marriage and in general our biases can have both positive and negative consequences. Since positive outcomes are not problematic to relationships, most marriage experts focus attention on the negative aspect of biases. Here are some biases that are common to many people which can have a harmful effect on marriage.

Confirmation bias is the tendency to interpret events or information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions. This type of bias will cause you to seek out information to confirm or prove that you are correct in an assumption that you have. For example, if you are convinced that your spouse does not want to spend time with you then you will interpret everything that he or she does as evidence to prove this perception. Your mate may need to work late, run an errand, attend a social obligation, go to an important appointment, or similar. While these things are all part of normal life, a confirmation bias will cause you to see these events as proof that your partner is avoiding you – even when that is not the intention whatsoever.

Negativity bias is the tendency to pay more attention to negative events or experiences and minimize the positive ones. If a person has a good experience and a bad one close together, he/she will be more strongly impacted by the bad one. This type of bias will cause you to give more weight to negative instances in your relationship. For example, you and your spouse put an emphasis on communication in your relationship and enjoy wonderful discussions daily for quite some time. But when a minor disagreement surfaces a negativity bias will cause you to dwell on that and neglect to consider the positive progress that was made.

Focusing bias is a bias in which there is a tendency to place too much importance on one aspect of an event or circumstance. For example, you and your spouse may agree to develop a budget or spending plan to save money and financial surplus. There are many areas in which both you and your spouse are potentially overspending. But, a focusing bias may cause you to place undue attention on some area that your partner is primarily responsible for while failing to consider areas in which you yourself may be wasting money.

Reactance bias is an emotional reaction in direct contradiction of what someone else wants you to do resulting from a perceived need to retain control or freedom. In other words, you resist doing something that someone suggests in order to feel in control - even when it is clearly a good idea or in your best interest. For example, your spouse may suggest that you apply for a particular job in your office thinking that you might be good at it, enjoy it, or make more money. The reactance bias may cause you to resist the suggestion on the basis that you feel you are being controlled or manipulated – even when that is not the case.

[See related article for more forms of bias that impact marriage.]
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...