Are You Thinking?
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.