We now know that our rationality is inextricably linked to our gut. But now it seems we may have misunderstood why we reason at all. Decades of research has been developed to better understand decision making in regards to the individual when it seems we keep coming back to what makes us fundamentally different, our social evolution. Enter the Argumentative Theory of Reasoning:
"We do all these irrational things, and despite mounting results, people are not really changing their basic assumption. They are not challenging the basic idea that reasoning is for individual purposes. The premise is that reasoning should help us make better decisions, get at better beliefs. And if you start from this premise, then it follows that reasoning should help us deal with logical problems and it should help us understand statistics. But reasoning doesn't do all these things, or it does all these things very, very poorly."
"Reasoning was not designed to pursue the truth. Reasoning was designed by evolution to help us win arguments... Reasoning can lead to poor outcomes, not because humans are bad at it, but because they systematically strive for arguments that justify their beliefs or their actions. This explains the confirmation bias, motivated reasoning, and reason-based choice, among other things."
No grand conclusion here, but it does speak to a couple things - first, the people we're trying to influence aren't necessarily looking for the best list of features. Gaining competitive advantage is about understanding belief systems, culture, lifestyles, environments, and the like - not winning on the battlefield of objective rationality. We just have to credibly justify the gut.
But more importantly, it speaks to how important our approach is in creating better ideas. We need to work with, for and among people that perceive the world differently than we do, we need to create environments in which contrarianism is lauded, where openness to new thinking and conversation is expected and where rigidity in the process exists mostly to force experimentation and sharing.
photo via jason rowe