It’s true that couples are better at knowing each other’s minds than are strangers, but it’s not by very much. Strangers, remember, were able to guess what each other might be thinking and feeling at an accuracy rate of 20 percent. Couples, in comparison, did only a little better, guessing right an underwhelming 35 percent of the time. In his book, Epley describes a similar experiment, one that worked something like a nerdy Newlywed Game: One half of a couple took a series of surveys, while at the same time in a separate room, the other half of that couple was taking the same set of surveys — only they were instructed to predict the way their significant other would likely answer. One question, for example, asked participants questions about their sense of self-worth, ranking how much they agreed on a scale of one to five with statements like “I tend to devalue myself.” (These were not exactly lighthearted questions.) On average, people were pretty good at predicting their partners’ answers, getting them right about 44 percent of the time. But they were not nearly as good as they thought they’d be: When asked to predict their own accuracy, they assumed they were getting these questions right 82 percent of the time. “These couples hit a double,” as Epley explains it, “but they thought they’d hit a home run.”Personally I think they didn't have the right people in the study. In terms of knowing each other, dating for six years is trivial compared to having been married for 20.
What’s even more disheartening, though, is that “this overconfidence increased in proportion to how long two people had been together,” he continues. The couples in this study had been dating for up to six years, and the “longer they had been together, the more they thougth they knew about their partner … More time together did not make the couples any more accurate; it just gave them the illusion that they were more accurate.”
Thursday, September 1, 2016
Knowing Each Other
Interesting bit of psychological trivia: