A little over a decade ago Leonid Rozenblit and Frank Keil from Yale University suggested that in many instances people believe they understand how something works when in fact their understanding is superficial at best. They called this phenomenon “the illusion of explanatory depth“. They began by asking their study participants to rate how well they understood how things like flushing toilets, car speedometers and sewing machines worked, before asking them to explain what they understood and then answer questions on it.

how to win

The effect they revealed was that, on average, people in the experiment rated their understanding as much worse after it had What happens, argued the researchers, is that we mistake our familiarity with these things for the belief that we have a detailed understanding of how they work. Usually, nobody tests us and if we have any questions about them we can just take a look. Psychologists call this idea that humans have a tendency to take mental short cuts when making decisions or assessments the “cognitive miser” theory.
Getting into an argument can be an extremely stressful experience. You can get so focused on
“winning” that you forget to actually listen to the other person. Here are some general dos to help you win arguments:

Do:

  1. Stay calm. Even if you get passionate about your point you must stay cool and in command of your emotions.
  2. Use facts as evidence for your position. Facts are hard to refute so gather some pertinent data before the argument starts.
  3. Ask questions. If you can ask the right questions you can stay in control of the discussion and make your opponent scramble for answers.
  4. Use logic. Show how one idea follows another. Build your case and use logic to undermine your opponent.
  5. Listen carefully. Many people are so focused on what they are going to say that they ignore their opponent and assume his arguments. It is better to listen carefully.
  6. Look for a win-win. Be open-minded to a compromise position that accommodates your main points and some of your opponent’s.

Maryam Riaz
Clinical Psychologist
Willing Ways, Islamabad