The Curse of Knowledge

August 24, 2009

in Communication

Curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that causes us to expect others to act on knowlege known to us but not the other person.

I am so guilty of this with my bride! I expect her to know what I know, and to process decisions based on what I know – even when I should realise she doesn’t know some of what I know. 

Another way I am guilty of something like this is to think about something and reject a number of options based on my thinking them through and finding each one to be less than acceptable. Then when I discuss the issue with my wife and she brings up something I’ve thought through and rejected, I try to prevent doing what I did – working it through. She say “We could ______” and I cut her off before she finishes her sentence. This makes her wonder why I even bother to discuss it with her, as it seems I’m not open to any of her ideas.

What about you – does what you know that your bride does not know, ever cause you to do things that are irrational, unloving, or less than wise?


One of the things I admire about you, Paul, is your honesty- the way you search out and then admit to your shortcomings with a desire to change. This seems to me to be something that all humans do who desire to be good. Yes, I do this too, exactly as you say; I cut her off, impatiently, when talking about an issue because I know something she doesn't, or because I've already thought something through and rejected it. Jesus could 'hear' the thoughts of others, without them being spoken- talk about freaky 'cause He often addressed those unspoken thoughts with questions, out loud, usually to the consternation of those who's thoughts came from a bad heart. Yet, he was never impatient with anyone while they were speaking. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, then. It is something I too will be working on. Be good!

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