In psychology, centration is a cognitive phenomenon in which individuals unintentionally focus on a single aspect of a situation or problem while ignoring other relevant aspects. This concept was originally described by Jean Piaget as part of his intellectual development theory in children. However, centration affects individuals throughout their lives. This blog post provides some insights into adulthood centration, its impact, and examples observed in our daily lives.

Understanding Centration:

1: In Children:

As mentioned earlier, Jean Piaget used the term centration in his theory of cognitive development. According to him, centration is most prominent in children between ages 2 and 7. At this stage, children will fixate on a single aspect of an object or situation while ignoring others. For example, a child might fixate on the size of a cookie ignoring the fact that breaking it in half will reduce its size.

2: In Adults:

Centration is more prominent in earlier ages but doesn’t disappear in the later stages of life. Adults are equally prone to it in various aspects of life. In adulthood, centration manifests in different ways and can be observed in decision-making, problem-solving, relationship dynamics, and emotional responses.

Centration in Decision-Making:

1: Career Decisions:

Centration plays a critical role in career decisions. For example, an individual is offered two job opportunities. They may fixate on the high-paying job while ignoring the other critical aspects such as work-life balance, career growth, or job satisfaction. This narrow focus will eventually lead to job dissatisfaction in the long run.

2: Financial Choices:

Centration often leads to poor financial decisions. An individual might become fascinated by a luxurious item and purchase it for immediate gratification. The complete disregard for their budget might lead to debt and unpleasant financial consequences.

3: Health-related Decisions:

Individuals are not immune to centration while making their health-related decisions. For example, an individual might become obsessed with losing weight while ignoring the importance of overall health and well-being. This narrow focus will lead to unhealthy dietary habits or excessive exercise causing harm to physical and mental well-being.

Centration in Problem-Solving:

1: Relationship Conflicts:

Centration can be harmful to personal relationships. During conflicts or arguments, individuals might become fixated on their own perspective making them rigid and uncaring of their respective partners. This inflexible approach will lead to the escalation of conflict and delay the conflict resolution.

2: Project Management:

In the workplace, centration affects project management. The manager might become obsessed with the tight deadline while ignoring the need to allocate resources or consider potential risks. The hyperfocus on the deadline might lead to rushed and subpar outcomes.

3: Creative Endeavors:

Centration poses a difficult challenge even in creative endeavors. For example, an artist might become too absorbed in perfecting a single stroke or color scheme while ignoring the overall composition. This tunnel vision may hinder the creative performance and limit the artwork’s potential.

Centration in Relationships:

1: Romantic Relationships:

Centration can wreak havoc on romantic relationships. One partner may fixate on their own needs while ignoring the desires and needs of the partner. This self-centered approach can lead to emotional distance and may ultimately lead to breakups.

2: Parenting:

Even in parenthood, adults are prone to centration. A parent might become hyperfocused on the academic performance of the child while ignoring other crucial aspects of development such as social skills or emotional well-being. This can cause excessive pressure on the child and hinder overall growth.

3: Friendships:

Friendships can also be affected by centration. A friend who is going through challenging times may become consumed by their own problems and neglect to support other friends in their difficult times. The self-absorbed approach may lead to strain and resentment in friendships.

Strategies to Overcome Centration:

Some strategies that can widen your perspective and help in overcoming centration are:

1: Mindfulness:

While it may sound unusual, practicing mindfulness can be instrumental in overcoming centration. Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and aware of the current situation. This practice will help you stay focused in the present moment and encourage a broader perspective.

By focusing on the broader context and acknowledging multiple perspectives, individuals can make more balanced decisions and improve their relationships. For example, during a heated argument, taking a moment to breathe and consider the other person’s point of view can lead to more constructive dialogue without lashing out.

2: Decision-Making Frameworks:

In decision-making, utilizing frameworks such as the SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) or Cost-Benefit analysis can help individuals consider multiple factors and avoid centration. This structured approach encourages a comprehensive assessment of the situation.

Similarly, in personal life, considering the pros and cons of a situation will help in making an unbiased decision without fixating on a single aspect.

3: Seeking Feedback:

In relationships and professional settings, seeking feedback from others can be invaluable in overcoming centration. Constructive criticism and input from trusted sources can provide a broader perspective and help individuals recognize their blind spots.

For example, in a collaborative work environment, regularly seeking feedback from colleagues can lead to improved project outcomes. Moreover, listening to your partner’s opinions will help you recognize cognitive illusions and address them effectively while strengthening the relationship at the same time.

4: Practice Delayed Gratification:

Many instances of centration stem from the desire for immediate rewards or solutions. Practicing delayed gratification can help individuals resist the temptation to focus solely on short-term gains and consider the long-term consequences of their decisions.

For example, when faced with a tempting impulse purchase, give yourself a “cooling-off” period. Delay the purchase for a set amount of time (e.g., 24 hours) and use that time to evaluate whether it aligns with your long-term financial goals.

Conclusion:

Centration, a cognitive bias observed primarily in children, continues to affect adults in various aspects of their lives. Whether it’s decision-making, problem-solving, or relationships, centration can lead to suboptimal outcomes and strained interactions.

Recognizing this cognitive bias and implementing strategies to overcome it, such as mindfulness, decision-making frameworks, and seeking feedback, is crucial for personal growth and improved decision-making. By broadening their focus and considering multiple factors, adults can navigate the complexities of life more effectively, ultimately leading to greater success and fulfillment.