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Self-Distancing: What It Is and How You Can Use It to Make Better Decisions

Self-distancing

The act of increasing the psychological distance from your own subjective perspective when assessing events that you experience.

Is an external perspective that you can use when thinking about an event that you’ve experienced, where the self who is analyzing the event is considered to be distinct from the self who experienced it. 

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Self-Distancing: What It Is and How You Can Use It to Make Better Decisions

Self-Distancing: What It Is and How You Can Use It to Make Better Decisions

https://effectiviology.com/self-distancing-rational-decisions/

effectiviology.com

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Key Ideas

Benefits of self-distancing

  • It can help people cope with difficult events from their past.
  • It can  help people deal with socially distressful situations.
  • Useful because of our tendency to display high levels of wise reasoning when we give advice to others, but not when we decide how to act for ourselves.
  • It reduces decisional biases and improves decision-making during times of information overload.

How to create self-distance

  • Use self-distancing language:  refer to yourself in the second or third-person.
  • Try to view the situation from an alternative viewpoint, that is different from your own.
  • Try to visualize the perspective of  someone you admire, and then ask yourself what would they do in that situation.
  • Try expressive writing: write about your thoughts and feelings when you’re trying to analyze an event that you’ve experienced.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Sadness as a Person

A study found that people feel less sad if the feeling of sadness is personified, as it leads to a certain distance between the person and the emotion.

Detached from Sadness

By imagining that Sadness is a person, the sad person becomes detached from his/her sadness.

They can picture the sadness to have human traits or mannerisms, leading to an internal regulation of that particular emotion.

Not for the other Emotions

While this approach of humanizing the emotion appears to work for sadness, it can make a happy person less happy, if that feeling is humanized.

Other complex emotions like guilt and embarrassment may have any kind of effect and are yet to be studied. 

Creating Psychological Distance
Creating Psychological Distance

Many of us have been in a situation where our emotions prevent us from responding appropriately and seeing the big picture. For example, in cases where we feel extreme anger, stress, anxiety, and s...

Types of Psychological Distancing
  • Time: We think differently about events that are far in the future, compared to activities in the near future. For events in the distant future, we use abstract terms that lack concrete action.
  • Space: We use abstract terms to describe events within a physically-near space than events that happen in a space further away.
  • Social distance: When we describe someone that is different to us, we use abstract qualities (them and us).
  • Hypothetically: We use abstract words and terms to describe events that may not happen compared to events that are more likely to happen.
Psychological Distancing and Executive Functioning

Executive functioning is the set of abilities and behaviors that is controlled by the frontal lobe, including:

  • Goal-directed and planning behaviours, such as deciding how to get dressed.
  • Inhibiting responses such as waiting your turn.
  • Monitoring your behavior and correcting mistakes.
  • Changing your behavior in response to a change in the environment.

Executive functioning helps you to regulate your emotions better, which gives rise to psychological distancing.

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The egocentric bias
The egocentric bias

It is a cognitive bias that causes people to rely too much on their own point of view when they examine or remember events in their life.

This means that people tend to either underest...

Examples of the egocentric bias
  • When you are giving a public talk, you assume that your nervousness is more apparent to others than is actually the case.
  • You overestimate the amount of work that you contributed to a group project.
  • You might believe that your colleagues all share your political beliefs and social values.
  • You might remember yourself as having been the key player in a past event, despite the fact that you only played a relatively minor role in it.
What causes the egocentric bias

It occurs primarily due to the fact that we tend to naturally examine and remember events primarily through our personal point of view.

Even when we realize that we should adjust our perspective to see things through other people’s eyes, we tend to anchor this new perspective to our own, and we often fail to adjust from our original viewpoint enough to properly assess how other people feel.

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