Mastering The World Of Cognitive Biases
can open the door to better understanding of our judgements and gaining better habits.
Over many decades, psychologists have sought to answer questions like these about Cognitive Biases through careful scientific research.
- What drives the herd?
- Why do even the brightest sometimes make choices that appear wholly irrational to anyone else?
- Why don’t we learn from some of our mistakes?
- How can we make more consistently rational choices in money and love?
The cumulative result of these efforts is now a refined understanding of what it means to be human.
Human choices, it turns out, are often not just irrational, but predictably irrational.
But as the science shows us, by understanding these cognitive biases, we can turn this irrationality to our advantage.
What Is a Cognitive Bias?
Put simply, cognitive biases are predictable thinking errors that occur when processing information around us.
A cognitive bias is a systematic way that your innate patterns of thought fall short of truth (or some other attainable goal, such as happiness).
Cognitive biases can distort our view of reality, they can’t always be fixed by just gathering more data, and their effects can add up over time.
But when the miscalculated measuring instrument you’re trying to fix is you, debiasing is a unique challenge.
Still, this is an obvious place to start, for if you can’t trust your brain, how can you trust anything else?
It would be useful to have a name for this project of overcoming cognitive bias, and of overcoming all species of error where our minds can come to undermine themselves.
We could call this project whatever we’d like. For the moment, though, I suppose “rationality” is as good a name as any.
They’re the brain’s way of constructing a subjective reality that differs from the objective reality offered before us.
Confirmation bias is perhaps the most dangerous of all our thinking errors.
Charlie Munger has created a list of 25 cognitive biases that explain how our thinking and acting are formed.
Why Learn About Cognitive Biases?
By learning about cognitive biases, we become better equipped to be prepared against them.
Understanding and calling out our predictable irrationalities forces us to think twice before diving into decisions we might live to regret.
Simple awareness can help us outsmart our own biases.
How to Avoid Cognitive Biases
The question that remains, then, is how do we avoid these cognitive biases?
And the short answer is that we can’t avoid them all.
We’re homo sapiens, after all, not homo economicus.
We cannot possibly take all life’s decisions like machines.
Besides, sometimes our irrationalities aid rather than hinder our decision making.
The key to better decision making is to spot the pernicious thinking errors and check ourselves before they do more serious damage.
There are a few things we can do to better position our thinking:
* Grow our understanding.
The first tip to overcome these biases is to acknowledge that they actually exist.
Without knowing about cognitive biases, we’re less able to check ourselves when they begin to rear their ugly head.
Learn what biases are.
It’s hard to change, but it’s impossible if you don’t know what to look for.
Knowledge of cognitive biases breeds increased self-awareness, and increased self-awareness breeds improved decision making.
As we’ve already seen above, that’s well supported by the research.
* Develop a framework of mental models.
A second important step is to build a repository of mental models.
Mental models help us to see the world differently.
When confronted by innate cognitive biases, they help solve problems or take decisions in a more systematic manner.
They are mental bumpers that keep our ball in the alley.
Learning about them can help take our problem solving to the next level.
* Find a reliable sounding board.
Find that person(s) who tells it as it is.
Bounce ideas and decisions off them.
Use them as a rationality thermometer.
When the heat rises to dangerous levels, they can help open our eyes to the fire of irrationality in front of them.
* Identify what makes you uncomfortable
Are there people or situations that rub you the wrong way?
Ask yourself what makes you respond this way and whether you could have a bias that’s impacting your perspective.
Try new things like a new food or new activity.
Be more open-minded and flexible, this broadens your horizons and exposes you to new experiences that can be beneficial in helping you grow as a person.
Explore new experiences even if they are different than what you are used to
Be a student of the world and ask questions.
By doing so, you will learn new things and be exposed to different people and backgrounds.
This will make your life more fulfilling even if it makes it uncomfortable at times.
* Embrace the opposite
Trying to understand an issue from both sides can make you a stronger critical thinker and help you see the world with more empathy.
Push yourself to believe the opposite of your initial reaction and pay attention to what happens.
The 3 Phases of Life
There are three phases of life that we all constantly cycle between – the pushing phase, the overdoing phase, and the relaxation phase.
Pushing yourself or taking it slow may depend on which of the phases you find yourself in.
Let’s examine the phases in detail.
#1. The Pushing Phase
You feel excited about your life, environment, and things in general.
You are stepping out of your comfort zone, which many people find hard to do.
And this action is also paying off as you are growing.
In this phase, your momentum is high and you may experience exhaustion after using your energy on tasking activities.
#2. The Overdoing Phase
At this stage, you are taking more tasks than you can handle.
You are saying ‘yes’ to every task dole at you.
You can’t say ‘no’.
You might even be tense because you feel you miss deadlines on the project.
This is the phase that precedes burnout.
Life becomes overwhelming, so this stage requires adequate management, which I will share in the next phase.
#3. The Resting Phase
It’s time to reflect and regain your balance.
If you have been overdoing it while pushing yourself, it is time to rest.
Here is when you ask yourself questions, such as:
- Am I satisfied with this job?
- Am I working in line with my core values?
- Am I happy in my relationship?’
- So, what’s the right phase to be in? The truth is there is none.
However, the pushing phase is the ideal place.
Life is challenging enough to stay disengaged.
It takes pushing yourself to make the best out of the situation you go through in life.
How Do You Push Yourself
Beyond Limits and Achieve Success?
It is a habit that keeps you in the comfort zone rather than to dare to explore new pastures.
Meanwhile, not pushing yourself will deny you personal growth, professional or business opportunities, as well as life experiences.
So, here are some tips to get you out of your cocoon like habit.
Don’t forget to start with the hardest part first.
Take That First Step:
What you need to get started is that first step.
It may not be easy at first, nothing comes easy at first.
The first day at work is confusing, the same as starting at the gym.
But when you continually build your stamina, your momentum will become easier and easier.
Take the first step to achieve your dream!
Don’t wait for external motivation to make the first move.
It could be a motivational video, TED Talks, Lifehack articles, riverside, or a walk in the park.
Ensure it is something that drives you to take action.
Inspiration is a motivational tool to help you push yourself forward.
Create Your Environment:
You need the correct environment to succeed and make better choices.
It is better to read at your desk than to read on your bed.
If you want to stay healthier and fit, put healthier foods and water closer to you.
Avoid junk food and exercise your muscles daily.
Also, avoid toxic relationships, stay around people who will constantly remind you of your goals and aspirations.
Avoid the Safe Choice:
You can put your choices into two groups – the safer ones and the daring ones.
Go for the ones that will enable you to dare the impossible and that will teach you invaluable lessons.
You cannot grow by succumbing to safer choices.
Get out of your comfort zone and explore new pastures.
Visualize the Next Level:
What would it look like to be happily married, successful in your business and career, and touching lives?
Visualize those dreams!
Visualization will enable you to focus more on your goals and achieve success.
It will help you know where you want to be and what you need to do to get there.
Learn From Other Victors:
Whatever level of success you want to achieve, someone has already walked the path.
Maybe it’s your husband or wife, your parents, their parents, your friends or work mates.
Learn from them and pick cues and lessons on how they overcome their barriers.
Maybe entrepreneurs, actors, music celebrities or sports icons.
Read their books, online journals, interviews, and podcasts.
Do What Scares You:
Ask yourself when you are starting on a new project: Does this task scare me?
If yes, then do it!
That’s how you face your fear and win.
See every difficult task as a frog, then eat the frog.
Work on Your Weaknesses:
There are self-imposed limits, and most of them are products of our weaknesses.
It could be bad habits, poor self-esteem, or physical limitations.
Weaknesses make a big mountain look unsurmountable, and they can limit you in achieving the success you desired.
You can turn your weaknesses into strengths.
Seek for Help:
A little bit of assistance can be so significant in facing resistance.
Having someone or something to support you can counterbalance the impact of any negative thought pattern that may limit you.
They can assist you to make the push you need to get out of your comfort zone.
We all have cognitive biases.
But working on our proactive steps will reduce their negative impact on our judgment.
Doing so will help us improve our relationships and make better decisions.
Some Final Thoughts
You have to push yourself past limits to reach your goals.
There is no alternative to greatness than sacrificing your comfort zone and accomplishing great things.
Life does not reward complacency or mediocrity.
But by pushing yourself, you can break through barriers and step the paths that men have not trodden.
And interestingly, once you break through the limits, you will be amazed why you never thought the challenges were reachable.
Thank you for reading this article about cognitive biases and I really hope that you take action on the advice.
I wish you good luck and I hope its contents have been a good help to you.