Is reality real?


The action of observing an event will change its outcome.

I’ve heard this many times over the years and watched a program recently which described this effect as it relates to quantum mechanics.

It made me think that if outcomes are changed due to being observed, how does that relate to human behaviour? We all act differently at different times, at different events and with different people.

I realised how much our interpretation of reality changes our experience of that reality. This is a psychological, or perhaps behavioural, interpretation of the scientific principal known as the ‘Heisenberg Effect’.

German physicist Werner Heisenberg, founder of quantum mechanics and winner of the 1932 Nobel Prize, maintained that it’s impossible for a scientist to observe any living organism without necessarily changing it; observation alone changes the behaviour of the observed.

Can the Heisenberg Effect also be applied to the way we operate in the world? I think it can.

So ‘reality’ changes depending on whether you are with someone or alone, the importance that person has to you and whether that person is passive or active.All of these factors will change your response and therefore your actions.

This, in turn, affects how we perceive our reality and affects how others see it too. This means that reality is consciously created to meet the expectations of others and how we see our place in the world. Reality as a conscious construct: that poses more questions than answers!

It then follows, in my opinion, that our reality can be influenced by what we focus our attention on. In a day, week, year or life there will be a balance of good and bad, positive and negative. What we choose to focus on will define our outlook and attitude to life. Are you a positive or negative person? Do you engage or repel others?

William James, the American philosopher and psychologist, recognised in 1890 that social relationships inherently promote perpetual impact, stating that a person ‘has as many different social selves as there are distinct groups of persons about whose opinion he cares; he generally shows a different side of himself to each of these different groups’.

We see people act quite differently depending on circumstance: when with their boss or with their co-workers; when they’re with their spouse or with their friends. Same person, different persona.

So who are we really? What reality have we created? We often talk about being ‘authentic’ and ‘being true to ourselves’ but society requires us to be many different people. At what point does this game become our reality? When do we lose sight of the difference? If we lose our ‘self’ in life’s charade will we ever be able to find the way back?

As Stephen Covey said: ‘You don’t see the world as it is, you see it according to who you are.’

Who are you really?


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One Response to “Is reality real?”

  1. paulhassing Says:

    Interesting stuff, WLB2. Many thanks for the learning! 🙂

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