General Question

whiteliondreams's avatar

Why do people feel they have to be correct?

Asked by whiteliondreams (1717points) July 3rd, 2012

Have you ever asked a question, such as this one, and found someone who was helpful, one that was funny, and the one that seemed to “know it all”, but wasn’t helpful because their answer would be facetious? Or perhaps, someone would answer one of your questions with a remark that implied ‘you should know this’? Why do people do that? Is it a complex? Is it that psychological aspect that is reflexed and they do not realize it? Or, is it something else?

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30 Answers

BosM's avatar

The answer to this question is as diverse as personalities are to people.

An answer of “you should know this” could be someone encouraging you to “follow your gut”, or it could be a statement, rather than an answer. We may have no idea why someone could make that statement, either through personal knowledge of the asker, or it may be a topic where they feel “everyone should know that!”.

Everyone is different, some more assertive than others, some more knowledgable than others on a particular topic. My suggestion is to review all answers, ask questions to clarify those that confuse you, and toss aside those that you have no use for, don’t overthink it.

JLeslie's avatar

Sometimes they need to be correct because they know a ton about the topic and they are objectively right. I have seen jellies who will argue to death their advice/opinion/knowledge on a topic, and then switch to another Q and the same person is conceding they did not know some particular piece information provided by another jelly.

Sometimes the person just has to be right all the time, can’t let it go. They get all emotional for some reason. It might be a topic that was traumatic for them, or it might tap something from childhood.

DaphneT's avatar

Because our society rewards those who are correct, be it the absolute answer, the best manner of response, or the most fashionable. Anyone who answers a question is responding from their own set of experiences.
One person could be from a scientific background and has been trained to give the most logical of answers, the next person could be from Boston’s upper crust and they are trained to give a response in a best manner, the next person could be from some big city neighborhood and might give a response in a manner they consider to be fashionable witticism because their buddies yell ‘good answer’ when they speak.
The written answer can take on tones of meaning based on our own reading and writing experiences. Some one who reads philosophical tomes is more likely to read sentences that are longer than average. Sentences that contain more words with more than 2 or 3 syllables are more challenging to read and comprehend and so change a person’s expectations when reading anything. Some one who reads fluff romances has a completely different experience with words and sentence structure. A person whose work requires they generate sound bites has a tendency to write sound bites all the time, with an eye for the “spin.”

JLeslie's avatar

I think also some people associate being correct with being smart or right. A lot of people don’t want to be wrong, and they don’t want to be dumb.

thorninmud's avatar

Not so very deep down, we’re still primates vying for social position in our little clans. Thankfully, we’ve found a way to assert our supremacy with words and ideas rather than pointy objects. For people who are inclined to seek dominance, a Fluther question is an opportunity to assert that dominance. When you see your answer as being your bid for social status in the group, then you’ve got a lot riding on it, and you’re more likely to craft it in a way that makes it forceful and not open to challenge.

It also seems like people carve out little niches from the larger group—sub-domains, I guess you could call them—where they are particularly assertive. They may not be generally dominance-seeking in all areas, but on their chosen “turf”, they want to be top dog.

mowens's avatar

I am correct. I dont know what your problem is. ;)

gailcalled's avatar

Would it be more useful to talk about accuracy rather than correctness?

However, I am finding the concept of pointy objects very appealing now. It is so much more straightforward than the verbal way.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Don’t you want to be correct when you speak?

Blackberry's avatar

Everyone gets that way sometimes, even you. Haven’t you ever explained something basic to someone? Or exhausted all possible means to someone, only to still get a headlights look?

I knew a person who didn’t even know who the vice president was. I was genuinely surprised by this because it’s something people should know just by being alive.

Regarding being right: I don’t know how to answer this. Why would someone want to stay wrong? That’s an ignorant position to hold. It just is.

flo's avatar

@whiteliondreams I like to be correct I hope. But I agree with your observation in your detail part of the OP. ”….with a remark that implied ‘you should know this’” corresponds with ”Is it a complex? “_Is it that psychological aspect that is reflexed and they do not realize it?” It seems highly likely.

gambitking's avatar

TLDR: Being wrong is embarrassing

Aethelwine's avatar

Are you speaking about the people who say “you are ignorant and not reading a word I write!!!”?

ugh, those people. yeah, I wonder what is wrong with them too

gailcalled's avatar

An issue I have here sometimes (that is true, I am sure, of all Q & A sites), is the people who answer with initial great authority. Then they retract, apologize for errors, and mention that they have been guessing or using a less-than-perfect memory or otherwise misleading the reader.

josie's avatar

If they are objectively correct, than they have to be correct. It is two ways of saying the same thing.
As for all other people and possibilities, it would probably take years of therapy to understand why they feel they have to be correct, and then it would change nothing anyway. Look at politicians. As often as they are wrong, they nearly always like it is somebody else who is wrong.

Facade's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir How did I know you and I would feel the same way about this? lol I like to be correct (as is knowledgeable), but I don’t always have to be right; does that make sense?

athenasgriffin's avatar

I’ve noticed, especially with myself (embarrassingly enough) that people have this way of thinking that if you don’t agree with them, then you must not really understand them. So, in any argument they just keep explaining their logic or insulting your intelligence because they can’t accept that one could possibly be intelligent and knowledgeable and disagree.

Blondesjon's avatar

At the risk of sounding flippant, most folks feel they have to be correct for the same reason they hate being wrong.

It gives them a false sense of control.

LostInParadise's avatar

Part of the problem is that people will say things on the Internet that they would not say face to face. Being able to see a person’s emotional response puts a brake on how rude they might be. The only time that I find this really annoying is when it is done to someone who is obviously fairly young. It would not surprise me if we have chased off more than one such person.

YARNLADY's avatar

I am my own worst critic. I sometimes get physically ill when I make a mistake. It makes my stomach hurt and my heart race. If I notice right away, I have trouble breathing.

wallabies's avatar

Ego, bad day/week/year, asshole, skewed sense of reality…or maybe it is just dangerously easy to post things like this that its easy to not think it through before “speaking”
It has been months and Im still adjusting to life w internet access 24/7 on my phone. Waiting in line? Read the news. Killing time before a meeting? Look up the meaning of a word for the fifth time this year. Backup at the drs office? Dash off a flippant but possibly useful probably useless response to a question on Fluther…

whiteliondreams's avatar

Funny enough, everyone here has the ethical perspective of being morally right and morally wrong. Whatever your perspective is based on, however is what differentiates your “accuracy” (@gailcalled), your objectivity (@josie), your assertion (@Simone_De_Beauvoir), and definitely control (@Blondesjon). Thank you everyone, your input is invaluable.

fluthernutter's avatar

In real life or on Fluther?

Real life may be a different matter. But on Fluther, why would you answer in the first place if you don’t think you have the right answer or at least some valuable input or advice?

gailcalled's avatar


To me, It is a curious thing that some people here seem to enjoy guessing or mis-remembering. Or passing on dubious advice with great authority and then recanting later.

fluthernutter's avatar

@gailcalled Recanting when you’re wrong is a good thing.
Verbal diarrhea and then recanting? Not so much.

flo's avatar

I don’t know but if verbal diarrhea was a one time thing, then recanting isn’t it a good thing too?

gailcalled's avatar

The elegant synonym for verbal diarrhea is logorrhea, a tendency towards extreme loquacity.

A one-time thing would be either a simple mistake or an error in judgment. It is the pattern that is reckless.

fluthernutter's avatar

@gailcalled Edit: Yes, it’s the pattern that is offensive.

gailcalled's avatar

Note that I said “the elegant synonym is logorrhea.

fluthernutter's avatar

@gailcalled I realized that as soon as I hit Answer! I thought I hit Edit this response right away. Man, you’re quick!

mowens's avatar


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