Is there a word for when you hear what you want to hear rather than the word(s) one actually said to you?

Basically, I'm imagining a Freudian slip except you don't actually say anything aloud.


3 Answers 3


It sounds like an example of a cognitive bias - to quote Wikipedia : (my emphasis)

A cognitive bias refers to the systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment, whereby inferences about other people and situations may be drawn in an illogical fashion. Individuals create their own "subjective social reality" from their perception of the input. An individual's construction of social reality, not the objective input, may dictate their behaviour in the social world. Thus, cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality.

There are many different types of cognitive bias: this sounds most like a confirmation bias - "The tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions."


If someone has selective hearing they might only hear the parts of a conversation that interest them, though this might not be precisely what you're after.

Th term pareidolia might be relevant. From Wikipedia:

... a psychological phenomenon in which the mind responds to a stimulus, usually an image or a sound, by perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists ...


What is Psychological Scotoma?

The word ‘scotoma’ is most commonly associated with vision, and it refers to a blind spot in the eye. A ‘psychological scotoma’ is another type of blind spot only this one occurs in the way we view reality. It means there is information in our experience that is inconvenient for our ego, and it responds by turning a ‘blind eye’ to it.

Psychological scotoma usually arises as a response to cognitive dissonance. This refers to a situation where there is some type of conflict between our beliefs, opinions, and our behaviour. Our ego doesn’t like there to be any obvious inconsistency in our thinking, and it responds to such a situation by using strategies such as psychological scotoma.enter link description here


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.