Are You Think­ing?

Catron Courier - - News - By Sam “Sweetwater” Sav­age

The hu­man brain is far more pow­er­ful than any com­puter. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have lim­i­ta­tions. Our brains are vul­ner­a­ble to cer­tain glitches called "cog­ni­tive bi­ases" that cause us to make poor de­ci­sion. Here are the most com­mon ones.

Con­fir­ma­tion Bias: We love to read books and lis­ten to shows that sup­port our be­liefs. We tend to spend time with peo­ple who agree with us. It makes us un­com­fort­able to be ex­posed to ideas that are new. This can leads to a lack of per­sonal growth, and very awk­ward moments at fam­ily gath­er­ings.

In-group Bias: This is the ten­dency to trust peo­ple in our club, fam­ily, or church. We tend to over­es­ti­mate the abil­i­ties and val­ues of in­sid­ers. We end up trust­ing some­one who doesn't de­serve the trust while ig­nor­ing trust­wor­thy peo­ple from else­where.

Gam­bler's Fal­lacy: We tend to put a tremen­dous amount of weight on pre­vi­ous events, be­liev­ing that they'll some­how in­flu­ence fu­ture out­comes. The clas­sic ex­am­ple is a coin­toss­ing. Af­ter flip­ping heads five con­sec­u­tive times, our in­cli­na­tion is to pre­dict an in­crease in like­li­hood that the next coin toss will be tails. In re­al­ity, the odds are still fifty/fifty.

Pos­i­tive Ex­pec­ta­tion Bias: The sense that our luck has to even­tu­ally change. It's the same feel­ing we get when we start a new re­la­tion­ship that leads us to be­lieve it will be bet­ter than the last one.

Post-Pur­chase Ra­tio­nal­iza­tion: This is a mech­a­nism that makes us feel bet­ter af­ter we make bad de­ci­sions. It is also known as Buyer's Stock­holm Syn­drome, it's a way of sub­con­sciously jus­ti­fy­ing our pur­chases, es­pe­cially ex­pen­sive ones.

Ne­glect­ing Prob­a­bil­ity: Many of us feel safe driv­ing but get ner­vous when we have to fly. Yet, sta­tis­ti­cally, we have a 1 in 84 chance of dy­ing in a car ac­ci­dent, as com­pared to a 1 in 20,000 chance of dy­ing in an plane crash. It's the same phe­nom­e­non that makes us worry about get­ting killed in an act of ter­ror­ism as op­posed to some­thing far more prob­a­ble, like slip­ping on ice.

Next time you find your­self slip­ping into a bias, stop and see if you can bring fresh think­ing to an old sit­u­a­tion.

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