How to Avoid the Natural Reactions that Prevent Good Decision Making
2012 09 12
By Gregory Ciotti | LifeHacker.com
Most of us like to think that we are in control of our actions. Turns out, your brain can be a big jerk, and you are susceptible to a large list of biases and reactions that can hold you back from acting objectively. Luckily, some good social psychology books (spurred on by well-research papers and experiments!) have revealed a large amount of these biases to the common reader.
Here are five notorious social biases and the ways that you can recognize them and react.
Fundamental Attribution Error
This is a very insidious bias that we all fall victim to from time-to-time.
The calling card of the fundamental attribution error is when we place a large amount of emphasis on situational explanations when rationalizing when things happen to us, but we use personality-based explanations when rationalizing what happens to others.
As an example:
If Alice saw Bob trip over a rock and fall, Alice might consider Bob to be clumsy or careless (personal/dispositional).
If Alice tripped over the same rock herself, she would be more likely to blame the placement of the rock (situational).
First uncovered by the classic study The attribution of attitudes, there are STILL no concrete explanations to explain it’s occurrence.
Some of the more common reasons cited include:
- The just-world phenomenon: our brains are naturally inclined to have a belief that the world is balanced or "fair", and that things that happen to others happen for a reason. While we often see other people this way, we have a tendency to see ourselves as "victims" instead.
- Salience of the actor: individuals capture our attention, so when observing their situation, we are focused on them, when observing our own situation, we focus on the environment.
- Automaticity & processing: we often process things on a subconscious level, and it’s often easier for our brain to wave away a situation as happening "just because they deserve it" rather than looking at the circumstances.
Dealing with it: Unfortunately, there isn’t much beyond an agreed list of "best practices" when it comes to dealing with the fundamental attribution error (it’s that pervasive!). The best I’ve got for you is to remind yourself of the old adage of, "Walking a mile in someone’s shoes," and determining if the situation is playing a major role in the event.
For instance, if a beginner makes a mistake, recall a time when you were a beginner yourself at the same activity or another; it’s likely that your nervousness, inexperience, and other outside factors caused you to make some errors as well.
The Halo effect is an attributional bias where our brain makes judgements about the character or competency of others based off of our general impression of them. In some cases, it can be viewed as a form of social proof.
The problem occurs when these impressions are wrong, and since they are often based off of superficial judgements (such as if the person is attractive to us), we can be wrong quite often.
What is also worrisome is that this bias seems to be present even at the highest levels of society in realms where objectivity should rule. In fact, it’s been shown that on average, attractive people serve shorter prison sentences than others who were convicted of similar crimes.
Dealing with it: The most important way to battle against this bias is to try and detach yourself from the person at hand and to take the actions in as much of a "vacuum" as you are able.
If the same action were committed by someone whom you didn’t admire, would it impact you the same way? We have a tendency to get swept up in the stories of others, so ask yourself if the "mystique" about someone was gone, would you perceive their actions differently?
It’s important to ask yourself these questions when trying to objectively evaluate the actions of someone who may have left a strong impression on you or is someone who you truly respect: those qualities don’t always lead to the person being right.
The "naive cynicism" bias occurs quite often, even in the most trusting of people.
It states that people are, on average, likely to assume that others have more of an egocentric bias than themselves. This means that people believe that others are more likely to be egocentric than themselves when dealing with people.
We have data to show that this is not the case (statistically speaking), such as how Malcom Gladwell’s Blink showed that most people do not sue their doctors when injured due to negligence, despite the often pervasive idea that patients are always taking advantage of malpractice in this manner.
In one series of experiments, groups including married couples, video game players, darts players and debaters were asked how often they were responsible for good or bad events relative to a partner.
Participants evenly apportioned themselves for both good and bad events, but expected their partner to claim more responsibility for good events than bad events than they actually did.
Dealing with it: The important thing to remember about this bias is that it’s more of an outlook on others. While circumstance often plays a huge role in people’s outlook on the world (those born in a crowded, crime-ridden city may have different views on other people than those who grew up in a quiet suburb), but it’s important to remember that there are a LOT of people in the world and that, on average, most people evaluate situations in the same fashion that you do.
People by and large will give credit where it’s due, and you should try to react to situations where you have some sort of inclination that the opposite will happen, not just assume that everyone is more egocentric than yourself.
Read the full article at: lifehacker.com
Where is the soul? In the eyes, psychologists claim
10 Psychological States You’ve Never Heard Of… and When You Experienced Them
Do Me A Favor So You’ll Like Me: The Reverse Psychology of Likeability
Psychologist exposes assumption that protesters get “carried away”: Dr. Chris Cocking
Crowd Psychology, Mob Mentality (Video)
10 Psychological Effects of Touch
Latest News from our Front Page
Tiny Micro Robots Build Things in ‘Microfactory’
2014 04 17
The teenie-weeniest robot uprising ever might be sooner rather than later due to the work of research institute SRI.
Don’t let these microbots’ size fool you, there is power in numbers and thousands of the robots can work together to perform tasks at dizzying speed.
SRI International has developed a new generation of ant-like robots that can work as ...
’We are not dead yet’: Heartbreaking text messages sent from schoolchildren trapped aboard South Korean ferry
2014 04 17
Passengers on board the South Korean ferry sent heartbreaking messages to their family members just moments before it sank.
Children waiting to be rescued frantically reached for their phones as the boat began to list in a bid to communicate with their loved ones a final time.
Twenty-four people, including five students and two teachers, have been found dead, but 272 are ...
"A world of pure imagination": How Occupy turned to "anarchy"
2014 04 17
In the closing ceremonies of London’s 2012 Summer Olympics, comedian Russell Brand, perched atop the Beatles’ "Magical Mystery Tour" bus, opened his performance by singing the first lines of "Pure Imagination" from the movie Willy Wonka:
Come with me
And you’ll be
In a world of
Artists ’have structurally different brains’
2014 04 17
Artists have structurally different brains compared with non-artists, a study has found.
Participants’ brain scans revealed that artists had increased neural matter in areas relating to fine motor movements and visual imagery.
The research, published in NeuroImage, suggests that an artist’s talent could be innate.
But training and environmental upbringing also play crucial roles in their ability, the authors report.
As in many areas ...
NSA-proof email service goes online
2014 04 17
A new email service that protects its users from the prying eyes of the NSA and other spy agencies has gone online. The service’s creators say it will make encrypted messaging accessible to all and curtail internet snooping.
Germany-based Lavaboom was inspired by Lavabit, the encrypted email service that was believed to have been used by whistleblower Edward Snowden before it ...
|More News » |