Splitting or dichotomous thinking, describes a psychological phenomena where your brain perceives something as black and white, or all-or-nothing. People who struggle with splitting tend to see things in extremes and cannot see the area in between.
Psychologist Piaget was among the first to describe this phenomena with an experiment called THE THREE MOUNTAINS TASK. In this study a diorama of mountains was created where the view would be different depending on which side you were viewing the mountains from. In the study, experimenters sat on one side and the child on the other. Children were then asked to point to a picture that portrayed the view of the researcher. Results concluded that typically around age 5 and under, children were unable to imagine a different perspective and would typically point to the picture reflecting their perspective and their view.
If we take this psychological phenomena and put it on a grand scale, you may see people who fail to see the perspectives of others, who hold onto inflexible fundamentalist perspectives and who find it challenging to empathetically consider the possibility of another person.
Splitting occurs on a spectrum. While you may beat the Three Mountains Task with flying colors, you may still be at risk of engaging in black and white thinking.
And it’s not totally your fault.
In fact, technology has been working on your brain for decades in order to achieve this outcome. For example: Some sports players are Nike all the way, others are unwilling to even look at a brand other than Adidas. Or how about politics? Over the last election year we saw one of the greatest political divides in our lifetime where there was no area in the gray, it was you’re with us or you’re against us. And that’s final.
So the question we’re going to tackle today is: What Has Caused The Pandemic of Black and White Thinking in a Post Truth Society?
There are 3 reasons:
- COVID-19 is the catastrophe we are all dealing with on a global scale.
- People are getting the majority of news information from online sources.
- Each individual has their own unique perspective that is tied to their sense of identity.
The second step in the ACT Method is to examine the characters involved. Characters are the contributing factors to the challenge we’re examining.
There are three key characters at play in Black and White Thinking:
- Social Isolation: Inherently, a rapidly spreading virus accounts for humans avoiding each other, even before government “lockdowns.”
- The invisible character of platform algorithms: This form of Artificial Intelligence has the singular goal of keeping us on these ad-supported platforms as long as possible.
- A lack of shared reality: Frequently referred to as the post-truth era, the aforementioned AI contributes to this by failing to deliver well-rounded data but rather aligns with content we’ve already consumed, making a shared human truth of modern events nearly impossible.
The third step of the ACT method is to transcend. In this step we create a strategy for dealing with a problem; in this case, Dichotomous Thinking.
- The antidote to social isolation is reconnection: Connect with people you trust to get a fresh perspective about your beliefs and feelings.
- Disrupt the invisible character of algorithms that feed you information: You can do this by researching opposing views on three different platforms. This process will begin to liquify the concrete bubble that the algorithms have surrounded you with.
- Identify unique perspectives: Expand Your Worldview. We already acknowledged that perspectives are tied to identity, so our brains are hardwired to defend our beliefs. But if we are to repair the tear in the fabric of humanity in the Post Truth Era, it is our collective responsibility to find the common threads.
Are you ready to challenge your black and white thinking? Check out the 1-week Anxiety Freedom Challenge.
Dr. Nicole Cain is an advocate for empowering people around the world to help themselves via her educational video e-courses, books, and exclusive free Facebook group. You can receive the tools you need to find the root cause of your symptoms and feel healthy again.