U.S. Actions Towards Canada can cause us to Mispercieve
Date: Monday, October 24 2005
HOW COGNITIVE HISTORY CAN CAUSE US TO MISPERCEIVE
CONTEMPORARY U.S. ACTIONS TOWARDS CANADA
By Floyd W. Rudmin
Psychology Dept., University of Tromso
Tromso, Norway N-9037
Draft copy revised May, 1997
Comments, criticisms, and suggestions very welcomed.
BRACKETED NUMBERS IN THE TEXT REFER TO REFERENCES IN THE ENDNOTES
A B S T R A C T
As psychological phenomena, historical beliefs are components of self-identity, are powerful motivators, and are resistant to new information. Cognitive history is the interdisciplinary study of the psychology of historical beliefs, including mechanisms of misbelief suggested by Ichheiser's theories of social perception. The present study examines the Canadian avoidance of evidence of threatening actions by the United States. The method of study is to examine public reports of hostile behaviors by agencies of the U.S. government in order to show the regularity with which Canadians have dismissed such reports without seeking to confirm or disconfirm them. Various explanations for this blind-eye behavior are consistent with Bayes' Theorem of conditional probability. Numerous recent examples of evidently hostile behavior are cited to support the conclusion that the contemporary history of U.S.-Canadian relations is incomplete and maybe incorrect, to a degree unknown until cognitive mechanisms of misperception are understood enough to allow historical facts to be freely sought and evaluated.
Author Biography: Floyd Rudmin is a cross-cultural social psychologist now holding the professorship in social and community psychology at the University of Tromso in north Norway. He is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada, and author of the book, Bordering on Aggression (Hull: Voyageur, 1993).