Open-Mindedness by Ben Dean, Ph.D.
This week’s featured strength is Open-Mindedness.
People are very open-minded about new things…
Benefits of Open-Mindedness
Research suggests the following benefits of open-mindedness:
Open-Mindedness as a “Corrective Virtue”
Social and cognitive psychologists have noted widespread errors in judgment/thinking to which we are all vulnerable. In order to be open-minded, we have to work against these basic tendencies, leading virtue ethicists to call open-mindedness a corrective virtue.
In addition to the myside bias described above, here are three other cognitive tendencies that work against open-minded thinking:
1) Selective Exposure
2) Primacy Effects
What Encourages Open-Mindedness?
Exercises to Build Open-Mindedness
In my readings, I did not uncover any open-mindedness interventions. But in the spirit of creativity/originality (the featured strength 2 newsletters ago), I consulted Catherine Freemire, LCSW [Catherine Freemire, LCSW, Balanced Life Coaching, email@example.com], a clinical therapist and professional coach renowned for her creative thinking. She came up with three exercises for building open-mindedness which I think are definitely worth trying:
1) Select an emotionally charged, debatable topic (e.g., abortion, prayer in school, healthcare reform, the current war in Iraq) and take the opposite side from your own. Write five valid reasons to support this view. (While typing Catherine’s idea, I had a related one of my own: If you are conservative in your political beliefs, listen to Al Frankin’s radio show; if you are liberal, listen to Rush Limbaugh! While you are listening, try to avoid the cognitive error of polarization described above.)
2) Remember a time when you were wronged by someone in the past. Generate three plausible reasons why this person inadvertently or intentionally wronged you.
3) This one is for parents: Think of a topic that you consistently argue about with your teen or grown child. Now, take their position and think of 3 substantial reasons why their point of view is valid. (This could also be done with spouses or any family members for that matter!)
I hope you enjoyed this newsletter! See you in two weeks when we discuss the character strength, Love of Learning.
Baron, J. (2000). Thinking and deciding (3rd ed). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Kuhn, D. (1991). The skills of argument. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Peterson, C. and Seligman, M. E. P. (Eds.). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press.
Stanovich, K. E. (1999). Who is rational? Studies of individual differences in reasoning. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., is the Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, the founder of the field of Positive Psychology, a Past President of the American Psychological Association (1998), and the author of 21 books including his most recent best seller, Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. With Chris Peterson, he is co-author of the newly-released Character Strengths and Virtues: A Classification and Handbook. He is also the co-founder of Authentic Happiness Coaching LLC.
Ben Dean, Ph.D., is a psychologist and founder of MentorCoach™, a virtual university that trains professionals to become coaches <http://www.mentorcoach.com>. He publishes two free E-newsletters, "The Therapist as Coach" and the "ECoach Newsletter." To subscribe to the Therapist as Coach E-newsletter, click here <http://www.mentorcoach.com/nl.html>. To subscribe to the ECoach Newsletter, an E-newsletter for professionals across disciplines who are transitioning into coaching, click here, <http://www.ecoach.com/>. He is also the co-founder of the Authentic Happiness Coaching Program, LLC.
Marty will be speaking at the International Positive Psychology Summit from October 1-3, 2004. The speaking engagement will be held at the Gallup Organization Building, 901 F Street NW, Washington DC, 20004. For more detailed information about this speaking engagement, please call 202-715-3030. In addition, Marty will be giving a keynote address on "Why Happiness Matters: Applying Positive Psychology to Authentic Work" on Monday, October 11, 2004. The keynote will be held at the Moscone Center at 717 Howard Street in San Francisco, CA. For more detailed information about this keynote engagement please call, 888-578-7371, or click here, <http://www.trainingfall.com/>.
Ben invites you to a free one-hour teleworkshop entitled, "How to Create a Vibrant Five-Year Life Vision", on Wednesday, September 8, 2004 at 12:00 Noon EDT (New York time). For more detailed information, send a blank E-mail to mailto:LifeVision@MentorCoach.com. For information on his 8-week Blue Sky Visioning TeleClass, beginning Wednesday, September 15, 2004, send a blank E-mail to mailto:BlueSky@mentorcoach.com. In addition, Ben's Fall MentorCoach Training Programs™ will begin Tuesday, September 28th at either 12:00 Noon EDT (New York time) or at 8:00 PM EDT (New York Time). For more detailed information, click here, <http://www.mentorcoach.com/description/index.htm>. Ben will be leading his Clinicians' Guide to Coaching workshops in San Francisco, CA (9/10/04), Seattle, WA (9/12/04), Madison, WI (9/17/04), and Indianapolis, IN (9/19/04). For more detailed information, click here, <http://www.mentorcoach.com/ws-schedule.html>.
1. To experience the first Authentic Happiness Coaching Program Master Class with Marty, call 1-212-461-2698. (Call anytime, day or night. Only normal long distance charges apply.)
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 Lord, C. G., Ross, & Lepper (1979). Biased assimilation and attitude polarization: The effects of prior theories on subsequently considered evidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 2098-2109"Open-Mindedness" Vol 2 Number 15
All content © 2005 Ben Dean, Ph.D., MCC, Editor, "Coaching
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