Relationships & Love

“Solomon’s Paradox” Causes Unwise Choices

If you’re faced with a troubling personal dilemma, such as a cheating spouse, you are more likely to think wisely about it if you consider it as an observer would, according to a study done at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada and the University of Michigan. The findings, which will appear in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, demonstrate that talking about yourself in the third person and using your name when reflecting on a relationship conflict helps you solve the issue wisely.

The research compared results from younger adults aged 20 to 40 and those aged 60 to 80. Contrary to the adage that with age comes wisdom, the older adults were not more likely to reason wisely about their personal dilemmas than their younger counterparts.

A release from the University of Waterloo quotes lead researcher Professor Igor Grossmann of Waterloo as saying, “These results are the first to demonstrate a new type of bias within ourselves when it comes to wise reasoning about an interpersonal relationship dilemma. We call the bias Solomon’s Paradox, after the king who was known for his wisdom, but who still failed at making personal decisions.”

Grossman and Professor Ethan Kross from the University of Michigan asked study participants to reflect on a relationship conflict of their own or someone else’s, such as a spouse’s infidelity with a close friend, and think about the conflict in the first and third person.

The experiments indicated that we are wiser when reasoning about others’ problems compared to our own. The reason for this discrepancy is because we distance ourselves from the issue.

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