Many of us have had the experience of saying something we thought was innocuous, only to have a friend or partner interpret it as a veiled accusation or an attempted guilt-trip. Or the reverse — an innocent comment by the other is perceived as a slight or criticism. Each party experiences and interprets the same situation in very different ways.
Why is it so hard to understand our partners? Why do they continue to astound us with their feelings, reactions and desires, even decades down the road? Why is understanding so elusive?
In his 2014 book Mindwise, writer, scientist and (University of Chicago) behavioral psychologist Nicholas Epley explores the ways in which we routinely make inferences about what others think, believe, feel, or want, and in so doing, routinely misunderstand them.