An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction. To me, the word motivated reasoning seems like an oxymoron. Let me explain.
Sound reasoning should be objective — devoid of any or all biases/motivations. Right?
But the human mind is a house of paradoxical features. As it tries to get rid of one bias, it leaves the backdoor open for the same bias. Motivated reasoning is a bias that affects that part of our mind which is often referred to as rational and objective.
Let me give you a quick refresher on System 1 Vs. System 2 concept.
World famous psychologist Daniel Kahneman has done revolutionary work in the field of understanding human cognition. His two systems framework is a brilliant mental construct to decode how our brain makes decisions. System 1 is the result of our reflexive brain — quick and eager to jump to conclusions. System 2 is our reflective brain — slower, effortful, logical, and less prone to error.
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