New York Magazine - The Science of Us
Originally posted November 15, 2016
There’s been a lot of talk over the past week about the “filter bubble” — the ideological cocoon that each of us inhabits, blinding us to opposing views. As my colleague Drake wrote the day after the election, the filter bubble is why so many people were so blindsided by Donald Trump’s win: They only saw, and only read, stories assuming that it wouldn’t happen.
Our filter bubbles are defined by the people and ideas we choose to surround ourselves with, but each of us also lives in a one-person bubble of sorts, viewing the world through our own distorted sense of self. The way we view ourselves in relation to others is a constant tug-of-war between two opposing forces: On one end of the spectrum is something called illusory superiority, a psychological quirk in which we tend to assume that we’re better than average — past research has found it to be true in people estimating their own driving skills, parents’ perceived ability to catch their kid in a lie, even cancer patients’ estimates of their own prognoses. And on the other end of the spectrum, there’s “social projection,” or the assumption that other people share your abilities or beliefs.