Today I would like to share with you the ways in which you believe your thinking is right, when in actuality it’s wrong. Yes, that’s correct. There are frequent occurrences every single day where we are subject to believing our thinking is accurate and rational, when in truth, it is far from it.
I am talking about Cognitive bias.
A cognitive bias is essentially false conclusions and beliefs we create as a result of preconceived notions we have about the world. Answers we come to that sit well in our mind, appearing completely plausible. When in reality they are irrational, the result of our own perception of an objective input.
Imagine kicking a stone across the road, then coming back 10 minute later to see a car has crashed in that exact spot. A cognitive bias, would be believing that your kicking of the stone across the road 10 minutes prior, had somehow influenced the crash.
Or a more subtle example
The tendency we all have to place more value on our own views, than on the views of other people. There are very few scenarios where you will enter a discussion with the viewpoint that the opposing persons idea may hold as much value as yours. – This is called the ‘better than average bias’
The easiest way to explain simple cognitive bias is – Correlation does not imply causation.
What’s the relevance of understanding cognitive bias?
Well firstly, if you are reading this post. Then like myself, you are one of the curious one’s. We seekers of truth desire answers, and if you desire answers, you need to be able to think as accurately as possible.
Secondly, cognitive bias can often lead to reduced quality of life and even death. There have been many analysed cases, where cognitive bias was declared the underlying reason for actions which resulted in fatalities.
On a slightly less severe scale, cognitive bias blinds us from truths that can liberate us from much of the suffering we experience. An easy way to relate to this, is to take the statement – Pulling the wool over someone’s eyes. Which means to deceive them. Now rephrase it to – pulling the wool off your own eyes. For that is essentially the effect of learning and understanding cognitive bias.
On the contrary, there are certain scenarios where subjective ideas, shrouded in bias, greatly enhance a person’s quality of life. The statement – ‘Ignorance is bliss’ comes to mind.
I personally believe that ‘Ignorance is bliss’, only holds true to a certain degree. Ignorance is only bliss up until your ways of thinking are developed enough to surpass the level of satisfaction created through said ignorance. Which fortunately, isn’t a very hard space to reach if you go after it.
What are the main causes of cognitive bias?
Rather than explaining the cause of cognitive bias, which varies depending on the type of cognitive bias you are experiencing, it’s easier for to me list some of the cognitive biases that exist. Understanding each bias will also enable you to understand what causes them.
The tendency to believe something simply because a bunch of people also hold the same belief.
Bias Blind spot
The belief that you are less bias than other people, or you are able to point out more biases in others perception than your own.
The illusion of people appearing more attractive when standing in a group, than when standing on their own.
Searching for information or interpreting information in a way that will help to prove the belief you already hold, rather than reviewing the information objectively.
Putting too much emphasis on a single idea, usually the first one you are presented with. Rather than viewing all ideas equally.
Ben Franklin Effect
A person who has done a favour for someone is more likely to do them another favour, than if they had received a favour from them first.
The tendency for our perception of reality to be influenced by reoccurring thoughts, rather than maintaining a purely objective view.
There are many cognitive biases, each impacting on the rationality of our perception in their own unique way. I’m not going to list anymore, due to the risk of becoming tedious. I will however, recommend that you briefly google cognitive biases and skim over the entire list.
There is much power in clarity of thought. To deeper understand your thinking, is to deeper understand yourself. With so many cognitive biases at play, nestled snugly within your perception. It’s a breath of fresh air to expose them… well thats my perception 😉