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Superiority Complex

by Samuel
(Dallas, TX, USA)

Whenever I meet someone for the first time, especially if they are the same gender, I always "size them up". I always want to think that they are somehow inferior to me, even though I am clueless as to who they are, or what they are all about.

It seems like I am competing with them for something, but there is nothing to compete for because I don't know them and they don't know me. It not until I actually speak to them and get to know them that my feeling for them changes. Is this normal?

Is there something wrong with me? Is it because I am insecure or afraid that others are better than me?

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Evolutionary Social Cognition
by: Anya Griffiths

What you're describing is a common human experience, and it's rooted in psychological processes that have evolved over time. While sizing up or initially making judgments about others may seem negative, it's a natural part of our social cognition, and it doesn't necessarily indicate something wrong with you. Here are some insights into why this happens:

1. Evolutionary Perspective: Humans have evolved to be social creatures, and throughout our evolutionary history, we've had to assess potential threats and alliances quickly. This instinctual behavior helped our ancestors make rapid decisions about whether to trust or be cautious around unfamiliar individuals. This tendency to assess others quickly, often referred to as "snap judgments," is a survival mechanism.

2. Ingroup-Outgroup Bias: Psychologically, we tend to categorize people as part of our "ingroup" (those we identify with) or our "outgroup" (those we see as different or potentially competitive). This categorization can trigger initial assessments or judgments, although these assessments are often based on stereotypes and limited information.

3. Cognitive Biases: Various cognitive biases, such as confirmation bias (seeking information that confirms our initial judgments) and the fundamental attribution error (attributing behavior to internal characteristics rather than external circumstances), can influence our initial perceptions of others.

4. Social Comparison: The desire to assess oneself in comparison to others is a fundamental aspect of human social behavior. It can be driven by the need to establish one's identity, self-esteem, and sense of belonging.

5. Insecurity and Self-Esteem: In some cases, feelings of insecurity or low self-esteem can amplify these initial judgments and competitive feelings. When we don't feel secure about ourselves, we may unconsciously seek to boost our self-esteem by comparing ourselves favorably to others.

The key takeaway here is that while these initial assessments are common and have evolutionary roots, they don't necessarily reflect your true feelings or intentions. Once you engage in conversation and get to know someone, your perceptions often change, as you mentioned. This transition from initial judgment to a more nuanced and empathetic understanding is a sign of your capacity for social adaptation and empathy.

If you find that these initial judgments are causing distress or impacting your relationships negatively, you can work on being more mindful of your first impressions and consciously challenging any negative or competitive thoughts. Remember that everyone has their unique strengths and qualities, and getting to know others on a deeper level can reveal their full humanity beyond initial impressions.

If you're concerned about feelings of insecurity or self-esteem, it can be helpful to explore these feelings with a mental health professional. They can provide strategies to build self-confidence and navigate social interactions more comfortably. Ultimately, understanding and addressing these tendencies can lead to more positive and fulfilling social interactions.

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