Last week I was invited as a guest lecturer to a class on governance in Concordia University’s MBA program. My topic was about psychopathology in corporations and how it affects the relentless and often immoral/illegal pursuit of profit. At one point I was talking about how normally healthy and well-adjusted, honest people, get caught up in the psychopathic leader’s delusional world. One phenomenon, that of motivated reasoning, is particularly interesting. Simply put, motivated reasoning is a common and pervasive phenomenon whereby human beings adjust their “logic” in support of their conscious or subconscious desires.
I was looking for a simple example when I remembered one from many years ago. At the time I was researching potential dissertation topics and, among various areas of interest, the topic of road rage and what elicits it was a “hot” one for me. As a result, I had gotten into the habit of asking people with strange driving habits about why they did what they did.
I was driving on the highway with a sales rep from one of our clients. She was glued in the left hand lane, forcing trafic to pass her on the right. I enquired if she knew that the left hand lane was for passing. She said yes, but since she was going at the right speed (not necessarily the speed limit), she had no obligation to move over. She told me that she had learned this from her father. He would get very angry when he encountered someone slower than him in the left hand lane, and very angry at anyone flashing their headlights at him from behind because they wanted to pass.
She went on the explain that her Dad believed that, since he was such a good driver and knew the appropriate speed for any road and any driving conditions, anyone wanting to pass him was obviously a dangerous idiot, and anyone slower than him blocking his way was an incompetent fool.
I don’t know why, but I keep coming back to George Carlin’s video: