I'm searching for a word to describe a person who cannot understand that there may be different perspectives. I initially thought of single-minded, but that pertains to determination.

One example of several perspectives could be the difference between a process and an action. Please assume that a process is composed of several actions. A process may be composed of other processes, but these processes would be actions in this greater process.

If you accept my definitions, then depending on the holistic or granularity level, we may consider something a process or an action, depending on whether we are considering its parts or how it's part of a greater thing.

A person may have trouble understanding that it's not true or false that something is a process or an action, it depends on how it relates with everything else from the perspective that we take. From one perspective it's a process, from another it's an action. For some people, things seem to be in one and only one absolute way, which is wrong, IMHO.

Is there a word to describe this kind of problem that some people seem to have?

PD: It's like definition 1b for monism in dictionary.com. But I don't think most people know the word monist.

Here are some other, superficially similar terms that actually mean something quite different. A racist is (approximately) someone who considers other races inferior. A narrow-minded person considers other perspectives wrong or irrelevant, or may not consider them, but is aware that they exist. A monist would not even understand that there is more than one race or multiple perspectives; there is simply one reality, and that's it.

  • Would it be accurate to say that you are asking for a word that is to logic what empathy is to feelings? i.e. the ability to recognise and/or understand a different perspective.
    – Sam
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 15:28
  • @Sam somewhat. It's not to agree on, understand or recognise a different perspective but to even acknowledge the very possibility that there may be perspectives on reality and not a single absolute undeniable truth (or an immediate knowledge from which the reality is perceived in a perfect and complete way, their way).
    – Trylks
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 15:48
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    Please clarify whether this person suffers from an actual mental disorder that leaves them unable to appreciate that there are other perspectives/viewpoints/opinions on a subject, or whether they are capable of understanding this, but their emotional makeup is such that they refuse to accept other perspectives that don't match their own. It would be important to know whether this is a clinical disorder or just being stupid.
    – Phil Perry
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 17:30
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    In my opinion the word in Portuguese to designate this kind of person is bitolado, which is somewhat like fixated in English.
    – user79752
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 23:28
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    "which is wrong, IMHO" - Ironically, by declaring yourself correct, you seem to be demonstrating an inability to understand that there may be other perspectives :)
    – jl6
    Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 21:21

13 Answers 13


I think narrow-minded could come close to what you are looking for.

Lacking tolerance, breadth of view, or sympathy; petty.

  • Per meta.english.stackexchange.com/a/364 for the use–mention distinction, please use an italic face not a bold one. It makes the page look too heavy otherwise, and furthermore runs counter to typographic convention both on this site and in scholarly works.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 19:49
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    This answer is explicitly ruled out by the question.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 14:29

You could say that they're blinkered:

Having or showing a limited outlook

You could also say that such people exhibit tunnel vision.


Close-minded or closed-minded. Various equivalents in various situations might include bigoted or self-righteous. Likewise, fanatical.


Also see terms mentioned in response to the question Single word for people who are like "a frog in the well"; eg:

Synonyms of parochial, "characterized by an unsophisticated focus on local concerns to the exclusion of wider contexts", may serve. Such synonyms include confined, insular, limited, local, narrow, narrow-minded, petty, provincial, regional, small-minded, isolated.

Insular, for example, has a sense that means "separate or isolated from the surroundings; having little interaction with external parties; provincial." Narrow-minded and small-minded are of course easily understood, and so would be close-minded.

Blinkered, fitted with blinkers, or "eye shields attached to a hood for horses, to prevent them from seeing backwards and partially sideways", is another possibility, as are formations from synonyms blinders and winkers.

... monomania, "excessive interest or concentration on a singular object or subject" or "a pathological obsession with one person, thing or idea"; obsession, "compulsive or irrational preoccupation; an unhealthy fixation"; idée fixe; tunnel vision, "an extremely narrow point of view; narrow-mindedness"; and locked-in.

in one answer, and the following terms in other answers:

myopic, “2. shortsighted; improvident; 3. narrow minded”
solipsist, “One who adheres to self-absorption and an ignorance of the views or needs of others”
short-sighted, “(figuratively) Unable to see long-term objectives; lacking foresight.”



hidebound: not willing to accept new or different ideas


unreconstructed: used to describe someone who has strongly held opinions and beliefs that have not changed even though they have been criticized or have become unpopular


sectarian: limited in character or scope; parochial


doctrinaire: used to describe a person that has strong beliefs about what should be done and will not change them or accept other people's opinions


opinionated: unduly adhering to one's own opinion or to preconceived notions

  • Hadn't heard of doctrinaire before. How common is the usage? Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 13:24
  • @inquisitiveIdiot It's not an everyday word, but it's not esoteric, either. According to this rather doubtful-looking source, it appeared in about 8% of fiction books published in 1945.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 13:48
  • I too have my doubts about the source but more importantly its .8% Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 14:00
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    @inquisitiveIdiot Are you sure? To me, it looks a little above 8.000000% (see the graph nearest the bottom of the page). The fact that they're giving seven significant figures (on a graph!) and they say that doctrinaire is the 55,143rd of 21 (‽) most common words in non-fiction doesn't exactly give them credibility. FWIW, Collins gives it a word frequency of 2 dots out of 5, explained as "used occasionally" and "one of the 30,000 most common words" (not precise but at least it's not bogus precision).
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 14:28

I believe the term myopic, which relates to optics in that only objects at a very specific distance are seen in focus, is commonly used metaphorically in this manner.


I don't believe there is such a word but that the closest may be egocentric.

Centered in or arising from a person’s own existence or perspective

In psychology, children in the preoperational stage are considered egocentric as they cannot consider perspectives outside of their own.


My choice is the word miopic which literally refers to narrow vision, but figuratively conveys a limitation in perpective.

  • 5
    It would help if you'd spelt it right - myopic. But jwpat included that in his answer several hours earlier, so there was no point in posting it again anyway. Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 22:06
  • My silly "smart" phone did that...honest! Argh Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 0:56
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    myopic isn't narrow vision, it's short-sighted.
    – Lie Ryan
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 23:29

Anosognosic is kind of up the same alley:


"Anosognosia (/æˌnɒsɒɡˈnoʊziə/, /æˌnɒsɒɡˈnoʊʒə/; from Ancient Greek ἀ- a-, "without", νόσος nosos, "disease" and γνῶσις gnōsis, "knowledge") is viewed as a deficit of self-awareness, a condition in which a person who suffers certain disability seems unaware of the existence of his or her disability. It was first named by the neurologist Joseph Babinski in 1914.[1] Anosognosia results from physiological damage on brain structures, typically to the parietal lobe or a diffuse lesion on the fronto-temporal-parietal area in the right hemisphere.[2][3][4] Whilst this distinguishes the condition from denial, which is a psychological defense mechanism, attempts have been made at a unified explanation.[5] Both anosognosia and denial are almost always connected with damage in the right hemisphere. Split-brain research suggests that this asymmetry points to a neurological answer.[6] Anosognosia is sometimes accompanied by asomatognosia, a form of neglect in which patients deny ownership of their limbs."



The "Dunning-Kruger" effect is a slightly different deficit of self-awareness. In the classic example a would-be bank robber believed that rubbing himself with lemon juice would make himself invisible. He tested this by taking a picture of himself with a Polaroid, but somehow bungled the attempt and got blank film, so he felt it was "proven" that lemon juice makes you invisible to cameras.

Dunning observed that if this guy "was too stupid to be a bank robber, perhaps he was also too stupid to know that he was too stupid to be a bank robber — that is, his stupidity protected him from an awareness of his own stupidity."

Dunning: "We’re not very good at knowing what we don’t know." And, alas, the less you know, the less you know that you don't know, making idiots sure of themselves and highly intelligent people often tentative about their knowledge.


'I'm searching for a word to describe a person who cannot understand that there may be different perspectives'

I think you are looking for 'systematizer', a person who is on the far side of the range between empathy and sympathy

The person who cannot imagine being a different person who has a unique way of understanding the world is someone who is immune to emotional contagion. That is, they dont have the ability to observe someone else who is greatly embarrassed and feel embarassesment in their own body to the point where they can't even look at the other person because the emotion is too painful to bear.

see wikipedia on emotional contaion-- 'Vittorio Gallese posits that mirror neurons are responsible for intentional attunement in relation to others. Research in humans shows an activation of the premotor cortex and parietal area of the brain for action perception and execution. Gallese continues his dialogue to say humans understand emotions through a simulated shared body state. The observers' neural activation enables a direct experiential understanding.'



One-eyed is another possibility. It tends to mean unable to consider things from another point of view.

  • Hey! Where do you get that from? Psch, I have one eye, and yes depth perception is tricky without simultaneous dual angles.. but still.. All I gotta do is move around a little D: Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 9:51

In some contexts, troglodyte is very much for describing such folks.

According to Google it is usually for those stuck on particularly old-fashioned ideology. Based on context and life experience, I've heard some people use it a handful of times just for extreme stubbornness.

Subjectively, I'd call such a person: a liar. Surely they must actually see more than they'd like to admit - or perhaps an ignoramus would be more fitting if not. =]


I suppose someone could be aphased to certain concepts.

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