Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Boxes

Boxes. We live in them.  We think in them.  If there's not a box to classify something, we can't help but generate one.

If I see a bus, my mind is classifying it; transportation, mass transit, car alternative, etc.  If I see four people in suits and bow ties walk onto a stage, I'm instantly going to classify them as either classical musicians or classical choral singers.

Boxes are mental models that are built using our past experiences. Often, they can last for a long time, usually until new experiences cause us to reflect and update them.  For instance all the fluffy kittens in the "cute" box can soon become "danger" to the kid that just got attacked by sharp claws and tiny teeth.

But what happens when boxes go stale?  This is where bad biases set in...

I can only see one reason for this to happen:  People aren't experiencing new things in life that would cause them to update their boxes.  They're just not being affected by life.

Maybe the bigot, who still acts like this is the 1980s, still only hangs out with other like-minded people.  Maybe the pensioner who is astounded by basic city amenities still has never taken a vacation from their tiny hamlet they were born in.

We're often told to "think outside the box", but for some people, they don't even know what the box is that they're in.  


I'd be interested in other peoples takes on this.