June 2, 2021 Webinar: U Helsinki / St. John’s University Communicative Agora

Inter-Cultural Communication – Reality. Axiom. Image.

Presented by Dr. Razan Jadaan – author of the book

It presents a kind of revolutionary state of thought, opening the space for thinkers, scholars, societies and worldwide public opinions to think and re-think about the perplex present inter-cultural communication, creating new dialectical syntheses approaching authentic Dialogue.

The book wanders in nine chapters between theory and realism: defining terms like culture and civilization, attempting to explain the ways of communication between the Arab cultures and ‘Western’ cultures in the era of globalization, comparing the construction of the Arabic ‘oriental’ and the (European & American) ‘western’ societies in the inter-cultural communication, concluding to the fragility of conceptual grounds -between the past, the present and the age of modernism and postmodernism-, studying the presence of mass media in societies and between them, also analyzing its role in influencing the worldwide public opinions. The book reflects the shape and content of the inter-cultural communication between dialogue and conflict from the different points of view, noting the barriers against a constructive inter-cultural communication, taking the technological revolution and its challenges into consideration. This work suggests new constructive approaches towards an authentic inter-cultural dialogue.


May 20, 2021 Webinar: Future Of Higher Education- Students Take

Courtesy UNICEF

On May 20, 2021 students of graduate programs International Communication and Integrated Advertising Communication and doctoral students from the School of Education engaged the graduate students from the Division of Mass Communication in an insightful and robust conversation about the future of education. Samuel Dieudonne, ICM, Claren Kaufhold, ICM, Kadijah B. Salawudeen, ICM, James Wheatley, ICM, Taryn Smith, ICM, Meghan Marin Ruelas, IAC, Pamela V. Eatman-Skinner, Gustavo Loor, and Kevin Scanlon (School of Education).

Please, take time to watch the video


In the vortex of death and despair: felled by Covid-19

In solidarity with my brethren in Goa, India

Basilio G. Monteiro

As death and despair assail us where do we find comfort? Tagore, our poet sage, reminds us that “Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”

At this moment of the pandemic, death has lost its grace, meaning and dignity amid the abstraction of statistics.

Dom Moraes in his Absences yelps with anguish

Smear out the last star. No lights from the islands Or hills. In the great square The prolonged vowel of silence Makes itself plainly heard Round the ghost of a headland Clouds, leaves, shreds of bird Eddy, hindering the wind.

The unnecessary and avoidable death and despair our people are facing is benign neglect the governance hoisted on the people caught trying to eke out a living and to stay alive. With pain and misery, we often find ourselves broken and crippled. There is a sense of incompleteness; but then, the longing remains. And Tagore would call us to ponder:

The song that I came to sing remains unsung to this day.

I have spent my days in stringing and in unstringing my instrument.

The time has not come true, the words have not been rightly set;

only there is the agony of wishing in my heart.

The struggle to make meaning is daunting, while we are focused on survival, masks, sanitizers, quarantined life and emptiness that surrounds our existence.

Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet and diplomat (1904-1973) has a poetic way to speak to our desolate hearts in his A Song Of Despair

The memory of you emerges from the night around me.

The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.

It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one!

Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.

Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.

In you the wars and the flights accumulated.

From you the wings of the song birds rose.

You swallowed everything, like distance.

Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!

It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.

The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse.

Pilot’s dread, fury of blind driver,

turbulent drunkenness of love, in you everything sank!

In the childhood of mist my soul, winged and wounded.

Lost discoverer, in you everything sank!

You girdled sorrow, you clung to desire,

sadness stunned you, in you everything sank!

I made the wall of shadow draw back,

beyond desire and act, I walked on.

While caught in the vortex of death and despair, it is good to be awakened by the Tagore’s sublime prayer:

This is my prayer to thee, my lord—strike, strike at the root of penury in my heart.

Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.

Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.

Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might.

Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.

And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will and love.

The Future of Higher Education in Post-Pandemic Era



Melissa Labonte, Fordham University, NY // Paul Levinson, Fordham University, NY // Paivi Oinonen, Aalto University, Finland

Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, CM,University, Association of Catholic, USA // Chantal Line Carpentier Chief, UNCTAD, New York Office // Yvonne Pratt-Johnson, St. John’s University, NY

The existing order of higher education has been up-ended by COVID-19. This experience provides an opportunity for all stakeholders of the educational process to reevaluate and reshape this order in a way that is more equitable, inclusive, accessible, affordable, and valuable.

Innovation, technology, and the digital divide has moved from the margins to the center of our education systems, and there is an opportunity to identify new strategies and pedagogies, which will help our youth not only obtain the education that they need but the one that they deserve and that prepares them for our changing times.

Now is the time to reimagine how higher education can emerge stronger from this global crisis than ever before and propose a path for capitalizing on education’s newfound support in virtually every community across the globe. It is a moment in history to understand the central role of education in the economic, social, and political prosperity and stability of nations.

De Terris, Aquis et Aeribus: Laudato Si’ 5-Years on…

Friday, March 26, 2021 @ 11 AM (EST)

Click the photo to view the WebEx recording.

Five years ago, Pope Francis changed the global conversation and directed our attention to our Common Home: the planet earth. The hard, painful and imminent consequences of climate change cannot be ignored. Laudato Si has become a transformative encyclical, which has grabbed the attention and the imagination of people across the world, and particularly of younger people. The global conversation focused on the impact of Laudato Si on different sectors in different parts of the world.  

His Eminence Cardinal Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development discussed the ongoing efforts of the Dicastery to keep Laudato Si front and center of public policy making across various sectors by engaging the principals of these sectors. Mr. Satya Tripathi, Asst. Secretary General of UNEP, New York Office, emphasized “action-oriented” work of the United Nations to accelerate the climate related policies. Mr. Marco Mari, President of Green Building Council, Italy, detailed how the engineering work of the Council has taken an aggressive lead to build and refurbish exiting building and also promoting sustainable cities.  

Presenters Dr. Juan Chebly, World Food Program, Dr. Luca Rosi, Istituto Superiore di Sanita, Italy, Friar Joseph Blay, Climate Justice Activist, Ghana, Adv. Monica Mhatre, Waste Management Activist, India, Ms. Cristina Parenti, Mechanical Engineer for Sustainable Development, Italy, Mr. Edmund Klimek, Architect for Sustainable Development, USA, Ms. Julia Theilen, Digital and Strategic Communication Specialist, Germany, Ms. Natalia Guendel Bueno, Graduate Student of International Communication, St. John’s University, NY, focused on their respective sectors and regions.  

Link to event flyer: https://t.e2ma.net/message/rskfhd/zyigk8

Dante-Morrison Intellectual Engagement

Thursday, March 25, 2021 @ 9:30 AM (EST)

Click the photo to view the WebEx recording.

Commemorating the 700th death remembrance of the beatific poet Dante Alighieri called for an engagement with is trans-centennial pupils. Toni Morrison, the noble soul achieving immortality, engaged Dante with vehemence and sublime subtlety. Dr. Kathleen Marks, an unfathomable Dante-Morrison savant, unpacked the richly embroidered subtleties of this sublime cerebral engagement. The eminent Dr. Annalisa Sacca, a distinguished poet herself, who entrenched herself early in life at Liceo Classico in Dante, discovered in Morrison’s Paradise a symbiotic soul with Dante. Dr. Florence Russo, a Dante connoisseur, took the audience to the Infernal Dante-journey rung by rung of the canto. Dr. Luca Iandoli, an Engineer, and Dr. Giuseppe Zollo, an Architect, both enchanted by Dante’s poetic mathematics, exposed Dante’s trans-national soul, mind and heart connecting fundamental innovations of Arab numerals and the zero invented by the Indian mathematicians and the Fibonacci’s Abacus – a testament to intellectual engagement in an open and interconnected world.   

Link to event flyer: https://t.e2ma.net/message/rodvdd/v3jtlu


The endlessly provocative and perennially in search for a satisfactory answer was the subject of global conversation: media and trust. It reflected different regions of the world with respective cultural, historical and political traditions shaping the notions, dynamics and political exploitations of trust. The conundrum of trust is as old as human beings as they came to live a shared community life.

The presenters from their respective convictions shaped by their respective lived experience and intellectual assessment succintly shared their highly regarded deliberations.

Dr. Minna Aslama-Horowitz along with Dr. Janne T. Matikaine, University of Helsinki, Finland, representing the state of trust in the Western European countries, offered a quantitative methodology to make sense of the why and how of trust play out in the society. Dr. Josepf Trappel of the University of Salzburg, Austria, explored very evocatively the philosophical perspectives of trust in relation to media. Dr. Razan Jardan and Prof. Roozbeh Ali Kafi of the American University of Dubai compellingly provided a historical, cultural and religious background to help us to make sense of the conundrum of trust in media in the regions of the Middle East, better understood as the Arab world.

Please click on the image to view and listen to the presentations.

Basilio G. Monteiro


M.S. in International Communication leads to the Embassy of Sweden in Uganda

 Helene Diyabanza-Peterson

My academic journey: from Stockholm University to St. John’s University

In January 2017, I started the International Communications (ICM) Program at St. John’s University in Queens as an international student from Sweden. Prior to that, my leave request from my ordinary job at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) Headquarters in Stockholm had been accepted. Immediately when I read the description for ICM, I knew it was for me. While the Communication part was new to me as I had done my undergrad studies in Business Administration and mostly worked in Finance Departments in the Swedish public sector after that, the Global Development part of the program was more familiar since I had worked for SIDA (corresponding to USAID) in the recent years.

My interest in global development comes from my background. Having grown up in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sweden with a Congolese father and a mother who was a Swedish missionary in Congo, my dream was always to work for an international organization with the goal of making the world a better place.

ICM – St. John’s University in Queens

In 2014, I followed my husband to New York as he had assumed a position as a diplomat and Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations. While living in Queens as a housewife, I took the opportunity to pursue my master studies.  A dear friend of mine, Ms. Emilia Udvareva, recommended St. John’s University and helped me prepare all the necessary applications. My first impression was my interview with Dr. Basilio Monteiro. He looked me in the eyes and said, there will be a lot of readings, 5-6 books a week. With two children at home, I thought to myself, he must be joking. It later turned that he did not. It was a lot of reading, everything from Cicero “The Republic and The Laws” to Luciano Floridi’s “The 4th Revolution”. I was very excited about my first lesson. I remember looking at my peers, they all looked so young and so confident and seemed to be from all over the world. For me, St. John’s University in Queens is diversity personified. My impression was that many of them had studied media and mass communication in their undergrad studies. I felt a little bit lost. However, the lessons soon became my favorite moments of the week. In my first year, I had Dr. Monteiro and Dr. Minna Aslama Horowitz in all my classes, and in my second year I also had Dr. Mark Juszczak and Dr. Candice D. Roberts. I was impressed by their charismatic and engaging way of teaching which made the time to fly by. I feel honored to have attended these classes. The discussions always held a high level, and I soon began to admire my peers for their maturity and relevant inputs, despite their young age.

Argentina – ICSB Academy

After my first semester, in the summer of 2017, Dr. Monteiro asked if I wanted to travel to Argentina. I said yes even before I was sure what it was about. Dr. Monteiro together with the Dean, Dr. Katja Passerini, and the Assistant Dean, Kevin James, would take 7 students from the ICM Program in Queens, and 2 students from the Global Development Program in Rome, to a competition for Small Businesses in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Buenos Aires arranged by the International Council for Small Businesses (ICSB). My best memory from this trip was the connection that I felt with the students from our University. Other dear memories were of course the beautiful city of Buenos Aires, the food, the tango, as well as the ICSB Academy where we learnt how to pitch, make a business canvas, what to think about when starting a small social business, and that was my first real contact with the UN SDGs. I got inspired by the SDGs and have since had a vision for my childhood village of Luozi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), that by 2030 there will be electricity, water, internet and proper roads. Later, I included this in one of my assignments, which became part of a paper compiled by Dr. Monteiro that we brought with us to another ICSB conference in Italy.

UNFPA Internship

During my studies in the ICM Program, I had the opportunity to do an internship at one of the UN Agencies, UNFPA Program Division. My main task was to support the Communication Team with the Interactive Strategic Plan 2018-2022. To gain as much experience as possible working with communication and with the UN, I extended my internship to 6 months, even though my credits were only counted for 4 months. I can strongly recommend ICM students to do an internship at the UN if given the opportunity, it adds an extra level of understanding to the program in a global setting.


Another memorable moment at the ICM Program is, of course, the Graduation. I was offered to go in May 2018, which means experiencing the graduation process in its entirety. It meant so much to be able to walk with my peers, especially those I got to know so closely in Argentina. And to have my family and close friends attending the ceremony. After four challenging, in many ways, years in New York, I was more than proud of this accomplishment.

Italy – Study Tour 2018

After graduating from the ICM Program I decided to apply to the MBA Program at the Tobin College of Business in order to sharpen my skills even more before returning to Sweden. The MBA was also like an unfinished business that I had started when I did my undergrad studies in Business Administration at Stockholm University many years ago.  During my first semester at the MBA Program, Dr. Monteiro reached out to me and asked if I was interested in attending an ICSB Conference in Italy. He wanted to participate with a paper that he had compiled from his own essay and three other students, which looked at communication and economic development from different countries (India, Ireland and Congo – DRC/Sweden), and I was one of the students. I said of course yes. Our Italian experience was magical. We were warmly greeted by Dr Monteiro’s colleague and friend, Dr. Roberto Parente, who is a full Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Salerno. He had arranged for us to stay in a beautiful lodge in the middle of the Cilente National Park. It was the four of us from St. John’s University; Dr. Monteiro, Monica Martre from India, Hope DeVito from the USA and I, as an International student from Sweden. Dr. Parente introduced us to his students Anna-Laura Califano from Italy and Mara Hesley from the USA who did her research in Italy with another brilliant Professor Dr. Bise Della Piana. Everything was authentic, the nature, the food, the people, and the beautiful language. We truly had an extraordinary learning experience of the Cilente National Park. We visited the Mayor of the town Morigerati Mr. Cono D’Elia and shared a delicious meal with him. We went to a museum and learned how to roll fresh pasta in a small restaurant with a fantastic warm and friendly atmosphere. We stayed there till long after they had closed, discussing marriage and relationships in the Indian culture and sharing our impressions and observations of the trip so far. One day we also made an excursion to the old caves “Grotte del Bussento” and climbed deep down to reach the source of the water. On our way up we took the cable car with a spectacular view of the nature below us. Two days later, we had to say goodbye to our lovely hosts at the lodge and to the Cilente National Park to continue our journey to the conference in Salerno.

In Salerno we were back in civilization with high speed internet, comfortable hotels, and shops and restaurants in every corner. We had a great time attending the conference, presenting our paper, enjoying some shopping in nice Italian boutiques, and especially continuing to enjoy our discussions and the Italian food. And still, we left a feeling of completeness in the Cilente National Park. The pure and authentic way of living, which made people live a long healthy life made a deep impression on me. When I asked if they had any elderly care, they answered that it was not needed because people there rarely suffered from heart diseases or dementia, which is otherwise so common in the western world. The high quality in food with, for example, pure olive oil, homemade pasta and bread, and organic fruits, vegetables and meat seemed to have led to a very healthy life. The only threat to health could be found mainly among the men who smoke cigarettes. Therefore, women tended to live longer since they did not smoke as much as men. This was of course pre-Covid, but I hope that people in Cilente have been somehow spared from the Coronavirus.

Our learning experience ended in a small village along the Amalfi coast. ICSB had arranged a bus drive up the hill on a very narrow serpentine road to a beautiful banquette with award prizes to the winners of the papers. Dr. Monteiro won the prize for his paper and our trip could not have been more successful. I am so proud and honored to have experienced this learning experience through the ICM Program. I only hope that Dr. Monteiro will soon be able to take his students to new fascinating places in the world, maybe to Uganda.

Embassy of Sweden in Uganda

A year into my MBA studies, I got my dream job as First Secretary / Controller at the Embassy of Sweden in Kampala. I believe, however, that my studies in the International Communication Program had an impact in why I was selected for this job. It certainly turned out to be the right foundation for this position. My internship at the UNFPA and the ICSB trips to Argentina and Italy gave me a great understanding of the UN and the Sustainable Development Goals, which I carry with me when I meet our UN partners in Uganda. When reading proposals from partner organizations such as NGO’s, the World Bank, International NGO’s etc. or in my interaction with Ugandan government institutions, I take with me the lessons on governance and policies that we learned from Dr. Minna Aslama Horowitz. And perhaps most importantly is the foundation that I got from the political philosophy lessons with Dr. Monteiro, which opened my mind and constantly challenging our traditional way of thinking and seeing the globalization and the western world’s way of working in developing countries. Even though I am working with global development, it is important to understand that the traditional grant system is in many cases not sustainable and in order to find sustainable solutions, we need to get corporate on board. I am therefore very proud of Sweden and Sida for changing the focus from traditional grants to also include other forms of financing such as loan and guarantees, acting as a facilitator and catalyst for the private sector, both locally and globally. Sweden’s focus on digitalization and the UN Leaving no one behind is also something that I understand and can fully relate to after my years with the ICM Program.

My takeaways from the ICM Program and advice to current and future students at St. John’s University

With the exception of the concrete impact that the ICM Program had and continues to have on my work at the Swedish Embassy in Kampala today and in my work in an international setting, I especially take with me all the fantastic lectures with my brilliant professors Dr. Basilio Monteiro, Dr. Minna Aslama Horowitz, Dr. Mark Juszczak and Dr. Candice D. Roberts, moments with my peers, the friendly and warm atmosphere at St. John’s University in Queens, the amazing trips that I made with Dr. Monteiro and his students to Argentina and Italy, another insight into how the world works, and the mechanism behind the media, political decisions, and how everything goes in waves. For my current work, I could not have had a better platform than my ICM Program. Another thing that I take with me is the interest in international communication in terms of how we can use media and social platforms to reach out, influence, communicate and share information. I will continue to be more active in working with our internal and external communication at the Embassy and develop my own social media channels to interact more with my friends and professors at St. John’s but also with other friends and colleagues around the world.

GO GREEN, St. John’s University!!!

Photo by Basilio Monteiro

During the Fall semester of 2020, in the International Communication Master’s program, the foundational course ICM801, taught by Dr. Minna Aslama-Horowitz, included several discussions on “global wicked problems” that all nations share to a degree – and that can be alleviated partly with communication, be it awareness-raising regarding the challenges, or access to communication technology for participating in solving those problems.

One of the key themes was the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals range from “No Poverty” to “Quality Education”, “Responsible Consumption and Production”, “Partnerships for the Goals”. 

Continue reading “GO GREEN, St. John’s University!!!”

El desacuerdo, ese gran incomprendido

Cristina Pérez-Cordón, Ph. D

El día que el desacuerdo salvó miles de vidas

La doctora inglesa Alice Steward (1906-2002) fue una de las científicas más influyentes del siglo XX. En los años cincuenta, comenzó a estudiar el aumento en los casos de cáncer dentro de la población infantil. Además de su interés en el tema como profesional de la medicina, tenía también una motivación personal, ya que su ahijada había muerto por leucemia algunos años atrás cuando tan solo tenía cinco años.

Imagen obtenida de https://history.rcplondon.ac.uk/blog/alice-stewart-and-link-between-foetal-x-rays-and-childhood-cancer

La doctora Steward estaba particularmente interesada en saber si había una correlación directa entre el cáncer infantil y el uso de rayos X. El tema no era precisamente popular y no encontró muchos apoyos por parte de casi nadie. De hecho, recibió una beca prácticamente insignificante para poder llevar a cabo su investigación. Ella, sin embargo, lejos de abandonar, decidió armarla con un particular método de trabajo: le pidió al estadístico George Kneale que trabajara con ella y que, activamente, intentase buscar el desacuerdo, que pusiera en tela de juicio absolutamente todas sus conclusiones, que intentase por todos los medios desbaratar sus argumentos y demostrar que estaba equivocada. Kneale, además, era la persona ideal para hacer esto, ya que sus personalidades eran totalmente opuestas. Él era introvertido y ella sociable, cariñosa y empática. Él prefería los números y la soledad, ella a las personas y la compañía.

Y así es como estas dos personas tan radicalmente diferentes comenzaron a trabajar usando el método del desacuerdo, un modelo de trabajo colaborativo cuando menos valiente. Ella le pasaba sus datos, sus modelos, sus estadísticas, y él hacía todo lo posible por buscar errores que invalidaran sus conclusiones. ¿Por qué? Porque los dos estaban de acuerdo en que si Kneale era finalmente incapaz de probar que la doctora Steward estaba equivocada, eso le daría a ella la suficiente confianza como para saber que iba por el buen camino en sus investigaciones.

A través de este método fueron capaces de demostrar que, efectivamente, dentro del grupo de niños enfermos de cáncer que formaban parte de su estudio, la mitad de ellos tenía una cosa en común: a sus madres les habían hecho radiografías durante el embarazo. Esta importante conclusión se materializó en un artículo titulado ‘A survey of childhood malignancies’, publicado en 1958 en el prestigioso British Medical Journal.

La primera reacción a dicho artículo fue de escepticismo y de rechazo. En primer lugar, la máquina de rayos X, relativamente nueva aún, se presentaba como una diosa salvadora. Se utilizaba regularmente para ver la posición del feto en madres embarazadas, además de otros usos médicos como por ejemplo el tratamiento del acné. En segundo lugar, se estaba poniendo en tela de juicio la infalibilidad de los doctores y su buen hacer. Y en tercer lugar, todo esto lo estaba haciendo nada menos que una mujer. Esto provocó que la popularidad de Alice Steward cayera en picado: jamás volvería a recibir una beca y, poco a poco, fue dejada de lado por el resto de compañeros de profesión.

Lamentablemente, se siguieron haciendo radiografías a mujeres embarazadas: la industria médica estadounidense y británica no estaba dispuesta a aceptar ningún tipo de desacuerdo. De hecho, tardaron 25 años más en abandonar esta práctica.

La dificultad de aceptar el desacuerdo y los sesgos cognitivos

Todos los seres humanos, en mayor o menor grado, tenemos ciertos sesgos cognitivos. Un sesgo cognitivo es, explicado de forma muy simple, un prejuicio inconsciente que nos lleva a interpretar el mundo (lo que vemos, lo que escuchamos, lo que sentimos,…) de forma subjetiva y selectiva. Los sesgos cognitivos nos pueden llevar a juicios inexactos, a interpretaciones ilógicas o irracionales.

Uno de los experimentos más conocidos en este sentido es el “efecto Bouba-Kiki”. Fue detectado en 1929 por el psicólogo estonio Wolfgang Köhler (1887-1967). En un experimento en Tenerife (España), el académico mostró esta imagen a un grupo de gente:

Imagen obtenida de https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sesgo_cognitivo

A continuación, les preguntó cuál de estas figuras se llamaba “takete” y cuál “baluba”. La inmensa mayoría vinculó la forma puntiaguda con el nombre “takete”, y la forma redondeada con el nombre “baluba”. En el año 2001, el neurocientífico indio-estadounidense V. Ramachandran (1951) repitió el experimento usando los nombres “kiki” y “bouba”, obteniendo el mismo resultado: kiki para la forma puntiaguda y bouba para la forma redondeada. Llamar “bouba” a la forma redondeada podría sugerir que este sesgo nace de la forma que toma nuestra boca cuando pronunciamos la palabra, que es más redondeada, mientras que empleamos una pronunciación más tensa y angular  para el sonido “kiki”. Eso supuso una base experimental para comprender que el cerebro humano extrae propiedades en abstracto de formas y sonidos más allá de los vínculos aparentemente racionales.

Hay muchos tipos de sesgos cognitivos. Uno de los más conocidos y que mejor ayuda a entender el concepto es el “sesgo de confirmación”, que consiste en la tendencia a averiguar o dar más importancia a la información que confirma nuestras creencias. Esto es lo que sucede cuando, de manera automática, solo leemos los periódicos y vemos los canales de televisión que concuerdan con nuestras ideas.

Otro de los más conocidos es el “sesgo de falso consenso”, que consiste en la tendencia a creer que las propias opiniones, creencias, valores y hábitos están más extendidos entre las otras personas de lo que realmente lo están. En otras palabras, la tendencia a pensar que el resto de la gente comparte nuestras ideas, cuando en realidad, no necesariamente es así.

Otro ejemplo de sesgo cognitivo muy extendido es el “sesgo de deseabilidad social”, que consiste en decir lo socialmente aceptado en vez de expresar lo que verdaderamente opinamos. Generalmente nace de la necesidad de sentir la aprobación social, de querer caer bien a la gente, aunque a veces puede haber otros motivos (económicos, políticos, etc).

Si volvemos a la cuestión de las radiografías en las mujeres embarazadas, vemos que estos tres sesgos jugaron un papel clave a la hora de impedir esta práctica. Por un lado, la industria médica dio menos importancia a las averiguaciones de la doctora Steward porque no confirmaba sus creencias; por otro lado, dieron por hecho que el resto del colectivo médico compartía su postura; y, finalmente, no quisieron decir que ese nuevo invento que tanto adoraba la sociedad tenía efectos tan dañinos en los fetos, ya que no era lo que la gente quería oír.

Cómo vencer la dificultad del desacuerdo

Hay una tendencia generalizada a identificar el desacuerdo como algo negativo cuando, en realidad, debería ser nuestro mejor aliado. Parte del problema reside en que siempre nos han enseñado que debemos ser más asertivos, que tenemos que saber defender nuestras ideas y, si puede ser, evitar el conflicto. Sin embargo, esta postura plantea dos problemas de base. Por un lado, no permite a la persona desarrollar las herramientas necesarias para gestionar el desacuerdo y, por otro, desencadena un efecto condenatorio hacia el desacuerdo (“no me gusta que no opines como yo”).

El primer paso para subsanarlo comienza por comprender que el desacuerdo es algo sano, natural e inevitable. Es, de hecho, algo positivo si se sabe manejar correctamente. Precisamente, gracias al desacuerdo, la sociedad ha podido evolucionar, avanzar y mejorar en muchos aspectos. El segundo paso consiste en escuchar a la otra persona sin dar por hecho que no tiene razón, o que la tenemos nosotros. Si ambas partes son capaces de hacer esto, se estarán librando del llamado “sesgo de certeza” o la tendencia a mostrar un exceso de confianza en tus ideas, a creer que siempre tienes la razón. El tercer y último gran paso consiste en ser capaces de integrar el desacuerdo en la comunicación para construir el llamado “conflicto positivo”, y verlo como una oportunidad de diálogo más que como una amenaza. De este modo, el objetivo de la comunicación entre las personas en desacuerdo ya no será convencer al otro, sino buscar acuerdo, que es algo muy distinto.


La clave está en comprender que las personas no necesitan tener las mismas ideas, solo necesitan tener el mismo respeto (siempre y cuando, claro está, dichas ideas no atenten contra los derechos humanos). Todos tenemos sesgos, y todos tenemos puntos ciegos que nos hacen interpretar la realidad de manera diferente. Nuestras vivencias y nuestras circunstancias personales son el cristal de la ventana a través de la cual miramos. Esa ventana que nos resulta cómoda, que nos reafirma y nos reconforta. El día que nos atrevamos a mirar por esa otra ventana que otra persona diferente a nosotros nos muestra, ese día habremos iniciado el camino a la integración sana del desacuerdo como un elemento más de la comunicación, y comprenderemos que el desacuerdo no debilita tu postura sino que fortalece tu conocimiento así como la inteligencia colectiva.


IG @Pictoline, publicación del 16 de junio y del 2 de julio