Naive Realism

What is Naive Realism?

Imagine everyone in the world wearing a pair of invisible glasses. These special glasses show them the world around them. Naive realism is the belief that the world you see through your own personal pair of glasses is the only true world. It is as if no one else’s glasses show any different picture. This view is straightforward: If something seems real to you, it must be real in the same way to everyone else.

Another way to explain it is that naive realism is like thinking everyone’s brains are set to the same radio station, playing the exact same song. When you look at a tree or hear a dog bark, you assume that everyone else sees the exact same tree and hears the same barking sound. This kind of thinking doesn’t leave room for other people’s experiences or feelings, which can be as varied as the tunes on different radio stations.

How Does Naive Realism Affect Us?

Naive realism affects us in a lot of ways, each one making it harder for us to get along with others. Here’s what it can do:

  • We might argue with people a lot. Since we believe our view is the right one, it’s puzzling when others don’t agree. To us, our point of view seems so clear!
  • Misunderstandings might happen a lot because we expect others to think like us and we can become upset when they don’t.
  • We can end up judging others harshly. If we’re confident that our way of seeing things is the only correct way, then anyone with a different perspective might seem wrong or ill-informed.
  • It can cause us to ignore other viewpoints or oversimplify complicated situations and issues because we think there’s only one simple answer.

Now let’s look at a situation where naive realism is the main player:

Example 1: Alex and Taylor having a disagreement in class could happen simply because their ‘glasses’ are showing them different pictures. Alex can’t understand why Taylor doesn’t see the obvious message about friendship, because through Alex’s ‘glasses’, that’s what stands out most in the book. On the flip side, Taylor’s ‘glasses’ are tuned to the theme of personal growth and challenges. Because of naive realism, they argue, completely sure that their own understanding is the correct one, and they fail to recognize the book might have multiple messages.

Dealing with Naive Realism

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help prevent naive realism from clouding your judgment. Here’s how:

  • Acknowledge it: By simply being aware naive realism exists, you can spot it when it affects your thoughts.
  • Be curious: Ask others about their perspectives and listen. It’s like a chance to look through their ‘glasses’ for a moment.
  • Question yourself: Consider why you see things a certain way. Are you possibly overlooking something?
  • Look for different angles: Most stories have more than one side. Aim to understand all the possible sides.
  • Slow down: Avoid making quick judgments. Give yourself some time to think about different possibilities.

Doing these things can help you expand your vision to include more than just your own viewpoint.

Why Is Naive Realism Important?

Why should we care about naive realism? Well, it influences how we talk to and understand others in our day-to-day lives. If you believe that everyone sees things the same way as you, it’s easy to become frustrated or confused when they don’t. Think of it like this: if you’re playing a game where everyone is supposed to follow the same path, but you don’t realize that each person’s path looks different, there will be a lot of bumps along the way. By understanding that everyone has their own path—or point of view—we can have more patience and work together better.

For instance, in school or work, realizing that others might have different interpretations can lead to better team projects and discussions. Instead of arguing, people would respect each other’s views and learn from them. One person might point out something you missed, or you might change your mind about something after hearing a new argument. This makes for a more open and creative environment, where everyone’s perspective is valued, and we come up with better, more complete solutions.

Related Topics and Explanations

Understanding naive realism is also important because it’s connected to other ideas and biases that affect how we think:

  • Confirmation Bias: Confirmation bias is like wanting to hear your favorite song on the radio over and over. It’s when you seek out information that agrees with what you already think and ignore anything that doesn’t fit.
  • Fundamental Attribution Error: This happens when you blame someone for behaving a certain way because of who they are, rather than considering the situation they’re in. It’s like hearing someone play a sad song on the piano and thinking they’re just a sad person, instead of wondering if maybe they’re just practicing for a sad scene in a play.
  • Fallacy of Fairness: When you expect life to be fair, like a game where everyone follows the same rules, and then feel upset or angry when you see unfairness, that’s the fallacy of fairness. But life is more like a game with lots of different rules for different players.

Recognizing these can help you understand the challenges we face in seeing things from someone else’s viewpoint.


In the end, naive realism is a tricky thing—it makes us think we’ve got the whole picture when we’re actually looking at the world through our own set of lenses. While it can mix up our thoughts and relationships, being aware of it is the first step to looking at life in high definition. We should also pay attention to other biases that can show up alongside naive realism. The key thing to remember is that everyone has a story, and the world is a complex place. Keeping our ‘glasses’ clean and our minds open will always reveal more of the amazing world and the people in it.