Talk:Wishful thinking

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WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 04:35, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Religious agenda[edit]

Under the "See Also" heading, someone has stated that "The historicity of religious figures is a field that may be conducive to some wishful thinking [SIC](compare the Historicity of Jesus Christ)." The meaning is somewhat unclear and no specific example is given. It seems like little more than a pot-shot taken by someone with a personal agenda of discrediting religion. Which is fine, but it serves no purpose in furthering the reader's understanding of wishful thinking except to nebulously link the fallacy with belief in the Hitsoricity of Christ. Many other, specific examples of Wishful Thinking are already present. I am striking the comment in order to eschew private agendas, whether they be pro- or anti- religious.


Hume summed up wishful thinking as the temptation to derive an "is" from an "ought".

A good example is the notion of the afterlife as providing an opporunity for divine justice to be served (ie by rewarding the good and punishing the evil) as we can plainly see that such justice rarely operates in life. That is, there OUGHT to be an afterlife - therefore there IS one. Or the Marxist belief that a workers' revolution is inevitable. Well, Marxists may think there OUGHT to be a revolt of the working class against their bourgeois oppresors - but we're still waiting for it. Exile 22:34, 1 January 2007 (UTC)

Ah, actually we've already had it a few times in the last century. (talk) 17:45, 24 August 2009 (UTC)

Poor examples[edit]

I am not perfectly happy with the some of the examples. I do believe Chamberlaine hoped that his agreement with Hitler would lead to peace, but as far as I know, he certainly did not believe it would guarantee it. In 1938 the Commonwealth was preparing for war.

The example with Operation Barbarossa makes me wonder if the author is referring to Hitler´s belief that he would win or Stalin's refusal to believe that an attack was imminent as wishful thinking. This needs to be clearified. They are both highly qualified examples. And so are by the way Japan's attack on Pearl Harbour -both the Japanese hope that they could somehow get the Americans to give in and the American refusal to believe that an attack was imminent. -Sensemaker

I quite agree, they are poor examples, so I have removed them.Rubisco (talk) 14:59, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
Example of quotation from New Testament about nature of faith. An atheist might regard this as "wishful thinking" while a believer might maintain that it is in a different category from ordinary beliefs about the world. As it is, it seems to imply that religious belief as such is false, which seems to go outside NPOV. I am not implying that no sort of bias can exist but that examples ought to be things which assist the reader by illustrating a principle with cases which will be agreed, rather than cases which will introduce further controversy. The Bertrand Russell quote in footnote would make it acceptable if could somehow be part of the example, i.e. "Russell argued that faith..." Aardwolf (talk) 14:39, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

Make connections to Cognitive Biases in psychology[edit]

I can't do this now, but there is a lot of psych. research and WP articles (of varying quality) that are directly connected to this. "Wishful thinking" is a natural entry point to this research. I am an advocate of keeping ordinary words that link to actual science in WP, not relegating them to Wiktionary unless there is a direct path back from Wiktionary to the depth article. I am attempting this with Habit (psychology), Stream of consciousness, and others. Habit formerly redirected to Habituation, which would have put off almost any normal user. DCDuring 19:50, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Move proposal[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was move --Lox (t,c)

Wishful thinking (psychology)Wishful thinking. Why the (psychology)? This should be moved to wishful thinking with a hat note pointing to wishful thinking (disambiguation). The other entries are just albums and songs etc that I've never heard of, and that shouldn't deny this article the normal name. Richard001 (talk) 04:23, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

I agree. It was moved to the current title on December 25, but that move pretty clearly contradicts the Manual of Style: "When there is a well known primary meaning for a term or phrase, much more used than any other (this may be indicated by a majority of links in existing articles or by consensus of the editors of those articles that it will be significantly more commonly searched for and read than other meanings), then that topic may be used for the title of the main article, with a disambiguation link at the top." I will request that this page be moved back to the original title at requested moves. Terraxos (talk) 16:41, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Support the move back per Terraxos/MoS --Lox (t,c) 15:49, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Support Mcmullen writes (talk) 22:56, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Support. As per Richard001. – Axman () 08:09, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Religion bashing[edit]

The section of this article describing wishful thinking as a logical fallacy was updated recently with some religion-bashing that is unsourced and doesn't contribute anything positive to the article. -- (talk) 21:08, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

Bad example?[edit]

"Economist Irving Fisher said that "stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau" a few weeks before the Stock Market Crash of 1929, which was followed by the Great Depression."

To me "permanently high plateau" reads as "Will never go higher than it is now." To me, this isn't wishful/positive thinking at all, and a subsequent crash of the stock market does not conflict with this thinking. (talk) 20:00, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

That's an odd reading, one in which I think "ceiling" would be the required metaphor so as to not imply the firm ground that Fisher saw. Regardless in context his meaning is plain and accurately portrayed: "I expect to see the stock market a good deal higher than it is today within a few months." (And so on.) —Mrwojo (talk) 00:17, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

Cosmetic tagging change proposed[edit]

There is currently a citation box at the article head. However the article itself is fairly well referenced and where it isn't it has meaningful links to other well-referenced wikipedia pages. I propose to put "citation needed" against items that DO need citations, e.g., Donald Lambro's quote. Then remove the ugly box at the head of the article. just a thought. Mediation4u (talk) 16:46, 8 August 2011 (UTC) editing is fun

Identified issue with Lambro citation - A notable reference has been added to the Daily Telegraph article. Other paragraphs do have meaningful links to other well-referenced wikipedia pages, and this page has encyclopedically summarised those pages, therefore no futher refs required. So aesthetically unpleasing Citation Box removed. Mediation4u (talk) 11:57, 11 August 2011 (UTC) editing is fun


Does anyone think the examples could be made a little less...political? (talk) 19:04, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

Addition of Psychology Section--Wishful Seeing[edit]

Hello! For our Cognitive Psych class we have been assigned to help edit a wikipedia article. My team consists of four members: Zach Blount, Megan Garzon, and Jenni Isaac and we decided that the wishful thinking article would benefit from a section related to psychology to create a more well-rounded article. In particular, we would like to discuss a subset of wishful thinking, wishful seeing. Wishful seeing is the idea that people perceive things based on what they wish to see rather than what they truly see. In particular, we would each like to specialize in a topic related to wishful seeing in relation to wishful thinking as well as add a history and current directions in research section. Each of us had to conduct research on a seed article and now we would like to bring our research together to edit this page.

For example, I focused my research on top-down processing (and points of cognitive penetrability) and environmental perception. I would like to add sections on how processing can be influenced by motivation and desire along with cognitive penetration. These sections would dissect a crucial step on how wishful seeing is facilitated. Specific studies would be cited such as Balcetis and Dunning (2013), Lupyan, Thompson Schill and Swingley (2009), Aue, Nusbaum, & Cacioppo (2012) and Bhalla and Proffitt (1999). Furthermore, research on the neural correlates involved in wishful seeing and thinking would also be analyzed.

Another topic to look at would be how motivations effect the perception of one's environment such as: size, shape, length, speed or slope of a target. For instance, size has been demonstrated to be misinterpreted, in as study conducted by Witt in 2001, softball players who hit the ball better perceived the ball to be bigger[1] . Balcetis and Dunning (2010) also looked at how the desirability of objects affected distance perception, hypothesizing and concluding that that more desirable objects appear closer. Cognitive dissonance also has been researched in its roles in environmental perception. In a study conducted by Balcetis and Dunning in 2007, it was concluded that to reduce cognitive dissonance in the high choice group the subjects changed their attitude to match the situation. Thus, they perceived their environment in a less extreme way (shorter distance) than the low choice group. Altogether, these studies suggest that intraphysic motives play a role in perception of environments in order to encourage the perceiver to engage in behaviors that lead them either to acquire a desired object or be able to complete a desired task[2] .

Other things to be looked into would be areas such as optimism, attention, future research (neural correlates), methods of researching wishful thinking (ambiguous stimuli). Together we hope to extend and link other related articles to the Wishful Thinking article.

ChristinaYlee (talk) 02:28, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

To add on to Christina's comments (I am in her group for our Cognitive Psychology class project), I would think it may be good to note a bit about the history of the psychological study of wishful thinking, beginning in the early part of the 20th century. This history section could focus on experiments such as the Bruner & Goodman (1947) study concerning children from less wealthy families and their tendency to misjudge the size of coins. Along with this history section, it should be noted that the early studies of wishful thinking were not at all conclusive due to many variables being left without control conditions. Of course, having a historical section riddled with studies that were not conclusive makes necessary the inclusion of a "current research" and/or a "future directions" section that would include where the psychological study of wishful thinking is headed today.

Personally, I plan to write a bit about optimism and its affect on wishful thinking, using studies like Aue, Nusbaum, and Cacioppo (2012). The use of ambiguous figures, like in studies such as Changizi and Hall (2001) and Balcetis and Dale (2007), being a very standard way to study wishful thinking and seeing in psychological studies, should also be investigated and included throughout the article. Zach Blount (talk) 03:52, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

As Christina mentioned, I would talk about the mechanisms of wishful seeing, more specifically attention and how deficits in attention (ie. attentional blink, change blindness, etc.) contribute to the changes in perception that influence wishful seeing. Also, I plan on investigating the various factors that influence attention and whether these correlate with wishful seeing. This relates to cognitive penetrability, as discussed above, and at what stage in the cognitive processes of perception wishful seeing occurs.

In addition to what Zach said, I would like to take a look at the methodological challenges that riddled the “New Look” psychological approach to a point of disrepute and how these challenges are being addressed by current studies including those by Balcetis and Dunning (2010), which took into consideration such confounding factors as positive mood and reporter bias.

Overall, I think that we can provide a comprehensive review of the material regarding the psychology of wishful thinking that would greatly enhance its current portrayal on this page. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. --Jenniisaac (talk) 01:10, 29 October 2013 (UTC)


  1. ^ Witt, Jessica (2011). "Action’s effect on perception". Current Directions in Psychological Science 20 (3): 201–206. 
  2. ^ Balcetis, Emily; Dunning (2010). "Wishful seeing: More desired objects are seen as closer". Psychological Science 21: 147–152. 

Wishful Seeing[edit]

As we have discussed, some background and history of how our perception is influenced by the context that surrounds us became a topic of interest of topic can be expanded on and included. The examples provided for Wishful Thinking are vague and could use clearer examples, such as how the size of a coin differed for a child in a poor economic situation relative to a boy in a good economic situation. It could also use more primary sources and a more focused theme, specifically wishful thinking in psychology.

This article could benefit from including how desires and preferences not only influence thinking, but also visual processing. In Dunning & Balcetis (2013), they specifically address the term coined wishful thinking or the influence of preferences on perception of an objects categorization and representation [1].As well as the way personal contexts, such as cultural background or physical fitness, can influence the way emotion and the environment is perceived[2] [3].

However, I also believe it is important to address both the biological and cognitive mechanisms underlying wishful thinking and seeing. A study has found neural correlates to wishful thinking in the reward system of the central nervous system[4]. Furthermore, these activated regions of the brain have provided clues to the possible lower-cognitive level processing that takes place during wishful thinking[5]. This could lead into a segway to look at the studies that address cognitive mechanisms, such as selective attention, that have been used to explain biases in perceptions and expectations[6].


  1. ^ [Dunning, D. & Balcetis, E. (2013) Wishful Seeing: How Preferences Shape Visual Perception. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22, 33 -37]
  2. ^ [Barrett, L.F., Mesquita, B., & Gendron, M. (2011). Context in Emotion Perception. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20, 286-290]
  3. ^ [Bhalla, M. (1999). Visual – Motor recalibration in geographical slant perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 25, 1076-1096.]
  4. ^ [Aue, T., Nusbaum, H.C., & Cacippo, J. (2012). Neural correlated of wishful thinking. SCAN: Swiss Center for Affective Sciences, 7, 991-1000.]
  5. ^ [Aue, T., Nusbaum, H.C., & Cacippo, J. (2012). Neural correlated of wishful thinking. SCAN: Swiss Center for Affective Sciences, 7, 991-1000.]
  6. ^ Rahnev, D., Maniscalco, B., Graves, T., Huang, E., de Lange, F. P., & Lau, H. (2011). Attention induces subjective biases in visual perception. Nature Neuroscience, 14(12), 1513 -1515.