Want proof that your brain isn’t as smart as it assumes it is? Take this pop quiz: Say you’re standing at 42nd St. in Manhattan waiting for an uptown bus and plan to get off at 52nd St. Say a person on the opposite side of the avenue is waiting for a downtown bus and plans to get off at 32nd St. Whose trip will cover a greater distance?
Neither, obviously, since they’re both 10 blocks. Now try telling your lyin’ brain that. The fact is, your trip will somehow feel like it should be shorter and the person across the street will feel the same way about the trip going in the other direction. When it comes to distance, it turns out, your brain always thinks the route you’re traveling at the moment is the shortest. An upcoming paper in Psychological Science explores that oddly geocentric—and egocentric—phenomenon and explains how it may have implications not just for our sense of place, but for human relations as well.
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