Social Question

jerv's avatar

Why ask an opinion question when you aren't interested in opinions that differ from your own?

Asked by jerv (28565 points ) April 2nd, 2014

Over the years, I’ve seen a few questions that allegedly ask for opinions and views, then utterly dismiss the answers they don’t agree with the questioner’s views. Worse, it’s often without any enlightening discussion of why they disagree. Some will go so far as to “move the goalposts” by saying the original question was about something almost entirely different.

Why is that?

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13 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

People are multitasking and cannot devote the attention to detail the OP might prefer. Guilty as charged. Or they are suddenly distracted by a dog that has to be let outside, S/O or child is demanding something that removes them from adding more to their answer….maybe they just want to push your buttons….lot’s of reasons.

One could read volumes into an answer that is basically a generalization and further demand clarification….but there are times more often than not one has to accept the answer as it stands and for what it is. This is social forum and all sorts will chime in for better or for worse. Overall no biggie.

Smitha's avatar

Some people just want you to tell them only what they want to hear. Actually most of them don’t want our opinion they probably have a particular answer to their question or point of view, but just need other’s confirmation or support.

LornaLove's avatar

Yes, I agree with Smitha, and I certainly have been there. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we actually pondered another’s viewpoint. The world in general would be a better place. Of course that is called successful communication. Sadly very few can do it.

jerv's avatar

@Cruiser That makes sense in some cases, but not when you have time to make multiple posts or continue a face-to-face conversation instead of walking away to attend to other matters. Still, that clears at least part of it up.

@Smitha It would seem to me that that’d be rather risky unless you knew you were talking only to like-minded people.

@LornaLove Yes, it would. The fact that I communicate better than many people actually frightens me sometimes.

gailcalled's avatar

@jerv: Really good question. This behavior is so common that it has its own fancy name.

Confirmation bias… is the tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses.] People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way.

The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position.” Source

jerv's avatar

@gailcalled Sometimes a question is so loaded that the confirmation bias motives are obvious, if not blatant. But why not ask, “Do you agree that….?”, rather than inviting any and all views? If you’re only looking for support, it seems to me that it’d simpler (and more tactful) to ask a yes/no question than an open-ended one.

gondwanalon's avatar

As you indicate, perhaps they are simply looking for validation of their own opinion.

They may also be afraid to seriously consider any radically different point of view from their own. Why because they are cowards, afraid of the truth and dealing with possibility that they are wrong. And that can be very painful.

gailcalled's avatar

@jerv; You’d think.

Symbeline's avatar

Which is why I would rather ask information or scenario questions. I guess it’s mean and all but I don’t really care about anyone’s opinions lol. I only ask opinion based questions if I believe the answers might pertain to something I’m looking to learn about or wtv. Or just for fun. If you notice, most of my questions are either information seeking ones or scenario ’‘what would you do’’ kinda stuff, or what’s your fave this and that.
But in bigger moar serious questions, most people seem to think that their opinion is fact. I’m no different, but least I got the guts to admit it. I keep out when I can. But sometimes this site is so slooooow I’d answer anything haha.

Kropotkin's avatar

Pfft. You only asked this question to read answers you want to hear.

ibstubro's avatar

I think there’s a certain personality type that is so confident of their own point (or points) of view that they ask questions in order to punch holes in any differing opinion. When they are rightly (and usually easily) boxed into a corner they attempt to shift the discussion away from their wrongness by moving the goalposts.

Probably the best reason for un-following a question or avoiding certain users, in my opinion.

jerv's avatar

@ibstubro Well, I often push the border of that myself as I tend to test arguments by trying to poke holes in them in order to see how much merit they have. Sometimes I even do this to arguments I agree with, playing Devil’s Advocate in order to get someone to step up their game.

ibstubro's avatar

Punching holes often just sounds argumentative, @jerv, but can be useful if used sparingly, IMO.

Trying to weasel out of the question when someone posts a punch in the question is intolerable.

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