9 months ago · Galya · 0 comments
Cognitive biases describe the irrational errors in human decision making. Our brain absorbs enormous amounts of information every day. Some of this information we consciously think about, but as the conscious part of the brain can only be focus on one thing at a time, our brain is looking for shortcuts to help us make decisions. These mental unconscious shortcuts are called heuristics. Unfortunately, these heuristics often fail to produce a correct judgment, and the result is cognitive biases. Knowing what the most common types of cognitive biases are, can help us to make a correct judgment when it comes of taking a decision or creating and voicing an opinion.
Fact and Information Bias (Qualifications/Competency)
Information bias is when people get caught in the need to seek and validate information which doesn’t lead to effective or affirmative action. There’s a big difference between being an innovator and imitators: there are people who will gather ideas just to talk about them, whilst there are others who will gather ideas and then apply them into meaningful action.
The Placebo Effect (The Secret & Manifestations)
This bias is one which inadvertently brings about the effects we predicted would happen i.e. a self-fulfilling prophecy. As we know, the placebo effect stems from scientific experiments where patients were given a fake drug which they told would cure them and found that the positive mindset of believing they were receiving an effective drug alleviated many patient’s symptoms. The problem is that this can happen both ways, depending on the negativity or positivity of our mindset: when we are biased towards our inefficiency, we’ll fail because we won’t try to disprove ourselves. We cannot expect things to happen to us in life just because we think good things and, in the same way, we shouldn’t expect only bad things to come about because we think it so. We cannot manifest a reality: we can only make a reality.
Outcome Bias (Judge, Jury & Executioner)
This is when people judge the soundness if a decision by its outcome rather than the process as to how the decision came about. An example of this would be for our relationships with others: we judge people for what they do and how they act without considering what they may have gone through which caused them to be the way that they are (and, therefore, have an ability to change).
Pro-innovation Bias (Greatness bound by Dependency)
Being innovative is fantastic, but innovation can only take people so far. The problem that occurs with innovation bias is when proponents of an innovation overvalue its usefulness and undervalue its limitations. This shows itself in our relationships when being part of an initiative becomes more important than the initiative itself: people join movements, community groups or even political parties, but become bogged down and distracted with their status within the group rather than focus on what the group is supposed to accomplish and the reason why it was established in the first place.
Stereotyping & Generalizing (All Intentions are Good)
Stereotyping is when a person lays expectation for a person (or group of people) to have certain qualities, thoughts and behaviors without knowing anything about them personally. Whilst stereotyping arguably has a psychological advantage for its use to categorize strangers as safe or dangerous, the cultural divisions and sociopolitical climate has blurred this line thanks to skewed media portrayals and sociocultural conditioning of who “looks good” and who “looks bad”. As adults, we cannot allow ourselves to accept socially indoctrinated or experienced concepts of what people are and who they will be based on a category they may fit on a surface level.
Sensory Anchoring Bias (Memory Reliance)
Whenever someone makes a decision, they will instinctively “anchor” down onto a detail or value about that thing. This first detail people anchor down onto becomes the bias adjust themselves to within their circumstances. This is why the phrase “you never make a second first impression” exists: people will anchor onto the first piece of information you reveal about yourself. The same goes for other people: when we’re young and impressionable, we will pick up the biases our parents hold because we, instinctually, want to survive and therefore want to appease and agree with our primary caregivers. We will pick up on little things like their disgust of certain habits, foods, dislike of certain people and animals, styles and even shops! Sensory anchoring also affects our memory. Our sensory anchoring bias is responsible for some of our distorted memories when it comes to relationships, events and our self-perception. Important questions to ask ourselves when it comes to challenging our biases include: How do I know this is bad? Where did this idea come from? Who taught me this was good/bad? How authentic is this thought to me?
Availability Heuristic (Self-Justification)
Also known as a mental short-cut, Availability Heuristics is when we rely on information which comes quickly to us and estimates the value of our own experience more than others. When we try to make a decision, a number of related events or statistics may jump to the forefront of our mind, which results in us putting more statistical weight and value in their probability. This is because, when we are in situations which are somewhat dangerous or anxiety inducing, our brain needs to make a quick decision. This, obviously, also affects our relations with other people because the examples you have to hand may conflict with someone else’s: this is why we become closed-minded to counterarguments, conflicting evidence or conflicting anecdotal evidence in debates and discussions.
The Bandwagon Effect (If you go, I’ll go)
Have you ever been asked “and if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?” This phrase is connected with the bandwagon effect, a psychological phenomenon which causes people to do something just because everyone else is doing it, even if it conflicts with their personal values. Herd mentality is responsible for waves in politics, fashion trends, music hits, technological development, and shifts in social acceptance and culture. We become so stimulated by what other people do and invest time into that we adopt their behaviors, attitudes and interests. The problem arises when we surround ourselves with people who aren’t living worthy and fulfilling lives: people who engage in unhealthy or dangerous habits, have little to no aspiration, are unkind and judgmental, etc. We are the sum of the five core people we surround ourselves with: so we should make a conscious effort to surround ourselves with empowered, passionate, energetic, kind and like-minded people who are striving for something greater than themselves.
Personal Blind-spot Bias (I’m ok, you’re not ok)
Most of us know what we don’t like in other people and things: being judgmental is easy. The trouble is, very few of us are able to turn the critical eye in on ourselves where necessary. Of course, there will be many of you reading this who are incredibly self-critical people who claim to know all their flaws – but the reality is, self-critical people also have blind spots. In fact, overly self-critical people tend to be critical in the wrong areas, because their criticism stems mainly out of self-shame rather than honest critique with an empowered intention to change. Our blind spots develop out of our desire to see ourselves more positively – something which most self-critical people crave the opportunity to do. After spending a lifetime of criticizing ourselves, what could be more perfect than taking fifteen minutes to critique someone else whilst turning a blind eye to all our own (probably very similar) flaws? However, personal blind spots not only occur more frequently in people who don’t think they’re biased but also amongst people who are the least receptive to criticism and advice.
Confirmation Bias (I determine what’s right and wrong)
We are all inclined to accept ideas which validate our beliefs more than those which challenge them, regardless of whether or not our beliefs are positive or negative. Confirmation bias serves to show us that we rarely look at ourselves and circumstances objectively: if we have incredibly low self-esteem, we seek out words in conversations which we believe implies insult or criticism; if we’re struggling with our health but don’t want to challenge it now, we seek out people who don’t tell us to lose weight; and if we agree with one political party, we only surround ourselves with others who align with us politically, refusing to converse with those who challenge or question our stances.