Theory of Mind

Watching the Science channel tonight, a show called “What makes us human?” shed some light on my previous post about what pets teach us about relationships. I said that I tend to infer my own reactions & judgements onto other people; that is, I expect them to react the way I would react to things. Apparently, this is an easily observed human evolutionary trait that causes us to socialize better. We have to infer something about what others are thinking to anticipate how to interact with them. It would be interesting to learn how it is we do this…by watching their body language, for example, and comparing it subconsciously to our database of past experiences.

Theory of Mind: The idea that one person can calculate the thoughts and ideas of another.

They gave a great example of Shakespearean relationships, how the stories are built around characaters understanding or MISunderstanding others.

When you throw this theory in with the statistic I heard in yoga training, that approximately 80% of our thoughts are misconceptions, you see just how (un)evolved we are!

If you observe your thoughts, and actually learn to admit when you’ve made a wrong assumption (for example, you honk at the car ahead of you to move, assuming they are not paying attention, and later learn they were actually waiting for a pedestrian to pass, or, when a person close to you says something, and you interpret it incorrectly, which causes you unnecessary sadness), you will understand how true that statistic is.