Successful Relationships Reading Corner

Successful Relationships Reading Corner

This week, we wrote about how looking at similarities rather than differences improves your relationships. To our surprise, this was the subject of many interesting recent studies focusing on the idea of looking at similarities rather than differences.

The world is much more alike than different “The cornerstone of discrimination is the belief that other people, including people of other races from other countries, are different. They experience life differently; they react differently. What if research could demonstrate that’s not true? A new study from UC Riverside asserts the world population may have much more in common than it has differences. ‘Even though individuals within the same country have more similar experiences than those in different countries, the differences are barely noticeable,’ said Daniel Lee”

The dangers of focusing on differences (and what we can do about it) “We group others according to markers like species, age, apparent sex, skin colour, weight, facial features, and clothing. When we use these cues, we will perceive another as being similar or different. Human enterprises such as the media and the social sciences also rely on sorting information according to similarity and difference. The end result is that we are constantly exposed to information through the lens of social groups, and more often than not, in terms of “us and them.” The problem is that once things are categorised into social groups, there is a bias towards focusing on difference rather than similarity.”

A New Way to Look at the Data: Similarities Between Groups of People Are Large and Important “On average, the amount of similarity between 2 groups (e.g., high vs. low educated or different countries) was greater than 90%…. Here, we suggest that quantitative social science may be inadvertently helping to foster [racism] by focusing on differences between groups and neglecting to highlight stronger and important similarities. For instance, if social scientists were comparing two groups of people with respect to moral attitudes, the researchers could describe either the differences or the similarities between the groups—or, indeed, both. Historically, the focus of social science research in general and psychological research in particular has been on the description of differences between groups.”

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