Un reconocimiento a los estudiosos hábiles

PRINCETON – Vivimos en un mundo complicado, por lo que estamos obligados a simplificarlo. Clasificamos a las personas de nuestro entorno como amigos o enemigos; a sus motivos, como buenos o malos; y explicamos los eventos con causas complejas o directas. Estos métodos directos nos ayudan a transitar por las complejidades de nuestra existencia social. Nos permiten crear expectativas sobre las consecuencias de nuestras acciones y las de los demás, y por ende, facilitan nuestra toma de decisiones.

No obstante, como dichos “modelos mentales” son simplificaciones, forzosamente están mal. También nos pueden servir para lidiar con nuestros desafíos cotidianos, pero dejan fuera muchos detalles y pueden revertirse cuando estamos ante un ambiente en el que nuestras clasificaciones y explicaciones predefinidas se quedan cortas. El término “choque cultural” se refiere a situaciones en las que nuestras expectativas sobre la conducta de las personas resultan estar tan mal que nos vemos sacudidos por la experiencia.

Con todo, sin estos métodos simples estaríamos perdidos o paralizados. No tenemos ni la capacidad mental ni el entendimiento para descifrar toda la gama de relaciones causa-efecto en nuestra existencia social. Así pues, nuestra conducta y reacciones cotidianas deben tener como base modelos mentales incompletos y a veces equívocos.

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