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Solomon's Paradox

1 min

Solomon’s Paradox defines how people have a tendency to reason more wisely about others’ problems than their own. Psychological scientist Igor Grossman named this phenomenon after King Solomon because he had the gift of wisdom, but was not good at taking his own. It seemed fit since he had plenty of wisdom for others, but not for himself.

A reason for this phenomenon is because when we give people advice, we weight the most important factors. While each of us know too much about ourselves. We have too much data to go off of and look at all of the criteria. This is why we give better advice to other than we take ourselves.

Not knowing everything becomes the advantage of a third party. They can figure out what is more important and not get tangled in the weeds. This is the curse of knowledge. According to organizational psychologist Adam Grant, “We have too much information about ourselves to make good decisions.”

Researchers have found a simple way to reverse it. The remedy to Solomon’s Paradox is to create psychological distance. There are two ways to create this space: (1) Imagine you are advising a friend who is in the same predicament. What would you suggest they do or not do? (2) Talk to yourself in the third person. Ask “Why is he or she doing that?”

Try this out and let me know what you think. It has been a valuable exercise for me in making decisions and overcoming the curse of knowledge.


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