Let’s begin with a simple test:
- Write down five words that describe your closest friend.
- Now choose five words that describe you.
Which was easier, describing yourself or your friend?
When asked, many people would state unequivocally that they understand themselves perfectly. But many people are delusional. At least slightly. We know ourselves somewhat well, but our friends have the ability to offer insights that we are unaware of, or choose to be unaware of. When we confide in our friends we are searching for a sympathetic outlet for our feelings, but we are also hoping for insight from someone who knows us “better than we know ourselves.”
New research published in the journal “Current Directions in Psychological Science” confirms this. Authors Simine Vazire and Erika Carlson note that people’s perceptions of their own personalities, while largely accurate, contain certain oversights. Some of these blind spots might simply be due to a lack of information, whereas others are due to motivated distortions in our self-perceptions. Because of this, our friends, or others who know us well, can add to our pictures of ourselves. This is especially true for traits that are either very desirable or undesirable.
Perhaps this is why arranged marriages have such a high success rate. People’s friends and families can predict compatibility at least as well as the individuals who are searching for love. No matter what the context, feedback from others is insightful. It’s why we always recommend that people using our SOCIAL STYLE and Versatility materials ask for input from others. It’s hard to truly know yourself without the perception of those who know us well.