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Researchers estimate that people make an average of 35,000 decisions a day and that a good number of them are affected by cognitive bias. One study found that 20 percent of diagnostic errors made by healthcare providers are caused by cognitive biases. And that after years of training. In a universe of competing interests competing for first place in our lives, we often feel pressured to act quickly. The problem is that there is often a gap between the information we have and the information we need to make good decisions. Hence we take mental shortcuts.
Cognitive biases are systematic errors of judgment. They arose out of faulty thinking, and this faulty thinking can lead you to misinterpret information and draw wrong or inaccurate conclusions. Unsurprisingly, we have them all. Our predilection for self-deception is pretty consistent.
The good news is that being aware of your cognitive biases can help you make better decisions. According to a recent study, "debiasing training" can improve your ability to make rational decisions and avoid the mistakes often associated with faulty thinking.
Below are some of the most common examples. Be aware of each individual's pitfalls in advocating for better decisions.
Related Topics: 7 Ways To Remove Bias From Your Decision Making Process
Sellers take advantage of our susceptibility to anchoring bias, using an initial piece of information as a benchmark for measuring other information. After seeing the sticker price on a new car (i.e. initial info), if you cut the price by 15 percent, you may feel like you've hit the bank. In reality, however, the dealership is still ahead. They just think you got a deal because you are comparing your ending price to the starting price.
Conducting relevant research and analysis is key to combating anchoring distortion. If you go to a car dealership and know the average outdoor prices in your area, this sticker price is less likely to affect you.
Related: The psychological trigger that confuses your customers
The availability heuristic is the reason why some people reject climate change. Memories of the 50 foot blizzard that buried your city last year are easier to remember than memories of gradually rising temperatures over decades. Too often we make decisions based on readily available facts that require little mental effort.
To avoid the availability heuristic, acknowledge that your memory may not always serve you best. Then equip yourself with credible information. Before you shoot down the collective knowledge of the scientific community, you should examine and evaluate its validity claims.
In a world of hyperfractured media, it is easy to fall into the confirmation trap. By only including sources that support your views, you are working against your own interests.
Facts about cherry picking don't make them come true. In addition, this often leads to distorted thinking and bad decisions. Instead, you should suppress confirmation bias by examining information from multiple sources, including information that contains facts that contradict your beliefs.
Related Topics: Don't Let Confirmation Biases Derail Your Launch Plans
Basic assignment error
When we make a fundamental mistake in attribution, we overemphasize character as the cause of anomalies in an individual's behavior, while minimizing the role of situational dynamics. The cashier who makes mistakes at the checkout may not be a carefree person. It is possible that she has just learned that her mother has passed away and cannot concentrate fully on her work.
To avoid basic attribution errors, resist the urge to blame and look for the cause instead. Suppose a person's undesirable behavior is caused by bad luck or some other factor rather than a reflection of bad character.
The halo effect leads us to believe that if one part is extraordinary, the whole must be too. Companies spend tons of money on advertising because they know consumers are vulnerable to the halo effect. A great advertising campaign often leads to an increase in sales across the board (not just the featured sales items), even for average products. I'm looking at you, McDonald & # 39; s.
To avoid the halo effect, recognize that people – and organizations – are complex and that, unfortunately, being good at one thing does not always result in comprehensive competence.
Related: 3 Ways Your Brain Can Make You Make Bad Decisions
Ostriches don't actually bury their heads in the sand to avoid discomfort, but we humans have a knack for avoiding mental discomfort by ignoring facts that contradict our beliefs. If you keep investing in the stock market even though you are constantly losing money, you may suffer from the ostrich effect.
To avoid this, pay attention to costs as well as benefits. Cross the line between belief and skepticism by being optimistic and accepting hard truths instead of just pretending they don't exist.
Spin doctors are masters at taking advantage of the frame effect. They know that the way they present information can influence public opinion. Instead of admitting that unemployment rose 10 percent over the course of the month, it could be said that it fell 3 percent over the course of the year.
If you are prone to change your mind because of the way facts are presented, you should look for points of comparison that shed light on them differently. Enlightenment can wither half-truths.
By recognizing the different ways in which your thinking can go astray, you can correct cognitive biases yourself. It takes practice to make good decisions, but the rewards of making rational decisions are incalculable. By changing your mind, you can change the world around you, one good decision at a time.