Audio Attitude Exploring situational influence on attitude and behavior.

March 23, 2008

Attitude Mountain

Filed under: mountain — Tags: , , — Brian @ 10:27 am

Do you remember in PSYCH 101 reading about the “Three Mountain Task?” The child psychology experiment that Jean Piaget conducted back in the 1940’s was an early study of how humans develop cognition. Essentially, Piaget showed young children a 3-D model of a landscape with three mountains. On the other side he placed a doll. He even brought the children over to the other side to look at the mountains from the doll’s perspective.


Piaget then returned the child to their seat and showed them several drawings – each representing a different view of the mountains. He then a asked the children to tell him which drawing was most like what they were seeing from their position. They correctly chose the drawing that matched the view from their own position. But when he asked them to choose which drawing represented what the doll might see from where the doll sat, the younger children insisted the doll’s view was the same view as their own. Piaget called this “egocentrism.”

Is this our problem in America with regard to huge issues like race? Are we so focused on our own perspectives that we can’t imagine someone’s reality that might be different than our own – even from the other side of the mountains? People indignant in their passionate belief of only one view of the mountains is a problem. These are not small children whose cognitive perspective has yet to grow. These are adults who vote.

(Image courtesy McGraw-Hill)


  1. that’s about right. in more intelligent types i think it’s due to a conscious unwillingness to adapt based on insecurity.

    Comment by Dean Whitbread — March 23, 2008 @ 10:41 am

  2. I have a son with severe autism. He needs to be very patiently tought about nearly everything that involves theory of mind, that he lacks probably because a bad wiring of mirror neurons, or absence of.

    This inability brings him a lot of frustration and anxiety. Not the contrary.

    America should learn how to overcome its insecurity by learning how to change its point of view(s) and empathize with others that may seem different, and not have such a passion for sameness.

    Comment by Otir — March 23, 2008 @ 12:03 pm

  3. Otir perhaps the insecurity Dean speaks of is what contributes to the fear. What is so frustrating is fear is rarely a good gauge of reality. That is, we often fear until we learn (immediate and imminent threats being perhaps more often the exception). The reluctance to learn may be tied into the reluctance to discover what we know may be flawed. Change requires adjustment, which requires effort, which requires energy, which we tend to over-consume in our pursuit of bliss.

    Comment by Brian — March 23, 2008 @ 12:37 pm

  4. I think that some people are like that, but not everyone. I know someone (you probably know who) that does not seem to understand that everyone else isn’t like him. He thinks everyone should think like him, and if they don’t they are stupid.

    That also extends to learned behavior versus someone being strong enough to make their own decisions. I had a friend in High School that wouldn’t talk to me when he found out I was gay. It wasn’t because he thought with his mind, but his dad instilled this on him and he never had the strength to make his own decisions.

    just my $0.02


    Comment by JayT — April 14, 2008 @ 8:10 am

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