The main biases that keep you from acting rationally

The main biases that keep you from acting rationally

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Emotions continually cloud people’s judgment. In this life, we are forever trapped between the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. As such, we seldom entertain unpleasant thoughts for too long. We think we are going for the truth, or looking at reality, when in fact we are simply holding on to ideas that soothe our egos.

This is the source of all mental biases.

Confirmation Bias

You look at the evidence and figure that you have arrived at your conclusions by way of rational thinking.

You think you are scientific in your methods, but in fact you go for the evidence that confirms only what you want to believe. Often, in Internet arguments, both sides will present “evidence”. Don’t trust that. Look and examine the evidence yourself. If you want to be truly scientific and free of bias, look for theories that disprove what you want to believe.

You can see this bias in action in people’s plans… Particularly when the stakes are high. People inevitably choose the evidence that confirms the good scenario and avoid all the negative arguments.

If you are consulting somebody, they will quickly find a way to dismiss your expertise if you tell them something they don’t like. The more powerful the person, the more they are prone to Confirmation Bias.

Conviction Bias

I am absolutely convinced this idea is true… Therefore, it must be true.

This is the bias most political leaders use to rally their followers. Instead of mild and soft rhetoric, they use strong, loud language. It works. Their followers quickly rally behind them, confident that if their leaders believe something so strongly, it must be true.

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They cloak their half-right messages with dramatic effects and jokes.

This doesn’t go just for politicians. Many people, when hesitant of something go the extra mile to convince themselves they are right by yelling at anybody who disagrees with them. The harder they believe something, the more true it is!

Appearance Bias

I see the people I am dealing with just as they are. I understand them perfectly.

Basically, this bias goes that if a person looks well and pretty, he must be trustworthy. That’s why many well-paid specialists can’t save much money although they earn a lot more than you and me – they must maintain certain living standard, certain appearances to convince their customers they are successful, and therefore they know what they are talking about.

People trust a pretty face in a nice suit.

If a person is successful, they must be ethical, conscientious, and they must be worthy of all the goodness that has come their way. In reality, a lot of successful people don’t quite live up to these expectations.

We don’t see people as they are. We see only what they show us. Sadly, most people know very well what face to use in their daily dealings. After all, we all want to be judged positively. Nobody wants to be ostracized.

People want to appear in favor of the nobles causes, hardworking and conscientious.

There is also the halo effect – when we see certain good or bad traits within a person, we also assume the presence of other traits that go with them.

Group Bias

I arrived at these ideas by myself, I do not listen to the group.

As social animals, we are inclined to seek like-minded individuals. If we find any, we feel big relief. In fact, many times, we are inclined to take up ideas and opinions because they bring us this relief. Being alone and not belonging is tough.

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We are unaware of this pull, and we imagine we have come to these ideas completely on our own.

Look at political activists… You will see that political correctness prevails among their ranks. Their ideas will be the same on dozens of issues.

Very few people will admit this influence.

Blame Bias

I am a man who learns from my mistakes

If people learned from their mistakes, there would be very few wrongs in the world. The truth is, that we seldom admit our own mistakes and very often find some external force to blame… The Universe, black magic, the weather, the government…

It’s true that they may be playing a great deal in why things went wrong, but for many people, they will blame themselves only when everything else fails.

The reason for this is the pain people feel when they have to look at their mistakes. As time goes on, people completely forget about the small part their own mistake played in their failure.

In the end, failure is nothing more but the same bad judgement repeated day after day, year after year.

Superiority Bias

I am different. I am better than everyone – more ethical and a lot more rational

Imagine this – many people, when asked if they see themselves as superior to everyone else, actually responded positively.

This bias applies to political parties and football teams – we believe our team is the better, the superior side. We cannot see their faults and irrationality. In the office, we believe our promotion came as a result of hard work and not from internal games. Everything we’ve got comes from natural talent and hard work. It’s the others that cheated.

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This is our natural pull to picture ourselves as natural, ethical and good. Rationality and ethical qualities don’t come naturally – they must be cultivated through effort and hard work.

Reading this, do you feel you, or someone else you know is a victim of these biases? Share your opinion in the comments.

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