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Systems thinking and practice
Systems thinking and practice

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3.7 Distinguishing worldview from perspective

Differences of perspective and worldview can both give rise to differences of opinion. Both concepts can be useful in understanding and working with differences of opinion, so it is valuable to understand the distinction between them.

The metaphor used for each is a useful guide to their difference in meaning. Perspective refers to how things look from your current position. Worldview refers to how you see the world, regardless of your current position.

People sometimes say ‘if you'd been in my position, you'd have done the same …’ Where this is true – where swapping role, responsibilities, relationships and other circumstances would result in swapped opinions–then the difference is one of perspective.

Worldview is about deeper values which may have their origins in upbringing or cultural experience: a sense of what is ‘fair and right’, fundamental beliefs about the nature of things. If swapping circumstances would not change your view, then the difference is more likely to be one of worldview.

In general it is possible to gain additional perspectives by imagining yourself into other circumstances. Your own worldview is harder to set aside, precisely because it is about your most fundamental assumptions.