A lot of people are stuck on how they see things or feel about things, their conditioned viewpoint of the world, and on their belief of what is right or wrong, and what is good or bad. It’s all about perspective – the viewpoint.
The viewpoint can be defined as the mental attitude that determines a person’s opinions or judgments, based on his or her point of view, perspective or perception. It is the way something is regarded, understood, or interpreted. One can describe an event, or argue about something from the viewpoint of his/her experience or circumstance.
Viewpoint includes a belief or opinion, often held by many people based on how things appear. Your perception of something is the way that you think about it or the impression you get. It is a construct of our own interpretations. People see the world differently and interpret events differently. It is interesting to listen to two or more people describe the same event. Each one has a different angle highlighted in his or her narrative. It is also noteworthy to mention the ways the media portray certain news items, directing their views along the ways they wish their audience to follow or believe.
I have been privileged to travel around the world. I have worked, and still work with people from various races and cultural backgrounds. I have come to understand a few things better and one of this is that in most cases, one’s viewpoints, perspectives and, or perceptions on something, are not always entirely correct. Because humans have biases, our ideas of the world are quite subjective. You interpret the world through your perceptual experiences. Some people however, are not matured enough or ready to grasp the concept of different perspectives.
“There is no such thing as one and only one correct perspective. Right is whatever conforms to your perception. You see the world as you are. Others see the world as they are too.” (Dr. Chopra)
Colonization of African countries and eventual alteration/ destruction of their indigenous cultures, values, and ways of life, were based on the European perception that these cultures and ways of life were ‘primitive’ and ‘barbaric’. Though there were other economic, political and motivating factors to colonization, these perceptions of the African ways of life were interpreted based on the European experiences and biases.
I have had the opportunity of talking with young adults who have been raised as “Third Culture Kids“. These include my own children. (A Third Culture Kid, often referred to as TCK, is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside his/her parents’ country or culture).
I have observed how defensive and offended these TCKs become when you refer to a particular culture, country, or a group of people, in a negative manner. These TCKs have lived with and interacted with others different from themselves, and have come to see things from various viewpoints or perspectives.
One’s viewpoint or perspective on issues can often be influenced by one of many psychological factors, one of them being Confirmation Bias.
Confirmation Bias is defined as the tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s pre-existing beliefs. In other words, we are often times influenced in our judgements and opinions on something, by our biases. This biased approach to issues is largely unintentional and often results in ignoring inconsistent information to our beliefs. People often exhibit confirmation bias in their viewpoints to protect their self-esteem because discovering that a belief which they highly value is wrong makes them feel uncomfortable. This is evident in racial disputes and arguments. Psychologists agree that Confirmation bias in humans shows that we do not always process information in a rational, unbiased manner. Another reason for the confirmation bias is that people like to feel intelligent while expressing their viewpoint.
Having rigid viewpoints, which usually are influenced by confirmation bias may create problems in interpersonal relationships as it can result in inaccurate and biased impression of others. It can cause miscommunications, conflicts, and suspicions among a diverse groups. When we understand this, it becomes important that we step out of our preconceived beliefs, and biases, and challenge our viewpoints before making certain sensitive utterances. This may not always be simple, but with conscious effort we can widen our perspectives or viewpoints on issues.