Could a simple drawing of a circle reveal (and explain) your deepest held beliefs?
In 2016 The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published a study that conducted a simple test. The researchers showed participants a drawing and ask them if they thought the drawing was a circle or not.
The purpose of the test was to determine how people tolerate differences that deviate from the accepted norms of society.
The researchers showed each participant drawings of perfectly symmetrical circles and circles that looked as if they had been drawn freehand by a child.
They discovered people who only identified the perfectly symmetrical circle as a “circle” were more sensitive to any deviation from the accepted norms of their society. While those who were more broad-minded in their interpretation of the asymmetrical circle were more tolerant of deviations from societal norms.
The researchers plunged into the murky waters of the actual political beliefs of each participant. They found those who found the child’s drawing of a circle to be a circle were open to liberal ideas such as legalizing marijuana and accepting gay marriage. While those who only saw the perfectly symmetrical circle as a circle were in favor of “small” government and stronger drug laws.
For me this is yet more evidence of how our conscious thoughts and actions are influenced by forces we are not aware.
While we cannot do much to directly affect many (or any) of our unconscious motivations, the point is to become more aware of the profound role our unconscious plays in our daily life.
Once we are empowered with knowledge of our unconscious motivations the power difference can be brought into balance. We are not simply drones at the mercy of our unconscious. We must strive to bring the conscious and unconscious minds closer together so they work in harmony.
I believe our unconscious does not intend us any harm. It is doing what it believes is best. But we should not be duped into believing our unconscious is unable to make mistakes or misinterpret information.
We should think of our unconscious as offering strong suggestions rather than issuing decrees that must be acted out mindlessly.