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Posts Tagged ‘Decision Making’

I’m Not Biased… You Are!

November 26th, 2019 3 comments

Us vs. Them

Think about the last time you immediately doubted someone’s actions or statements. Maybe you thought they were only doing it for their own self-interest. Perhaps they stated a political opinion that opposes your own beliefs, or they agreed to complete a survey but only to be compensated with money, at least that’s why you think they did it. Let’s say you and a fellow classmate were talking about whether the new $200 million Colby College athletic complex is reasonable. You say no! The college could spend that money on so many other more beneficial things. However, your classmate says they are all for the new athletic center. You know they’re part of an athletic team so you think to yourself, “Yeah you’re in favor of it because you’re on a team and it would benefit you.” But did you actually take time to think about that person’s reasoning or did you just assume that they were biased and believe that you were the one being objective in the situation? We all may not be aware of it, but we usually expect others to have more personal bias and believe that we are able to judge situations objectively even though that may not be the case, and this is called naïve cynicism. Although this bias may seem really similar to naïve realism, they have some differences. The cognitive bias of naïve realism is the belief that a person can view the world objectively, and so can all the other people who agree with them and are “reasonable”, in their opinion. Naïve realism states that people believe everyone else who disagrees with them can’t help being subjective because they are all biased. Both of these biases are also clearly related to the bias blind spot, which is a phenomenon in which we are able to recognize how other people’s judgments are affected by their biases but fail to see those effects in ourselves. Even though we may be educated on these cognitive biases, we remain susceptible to them and are unable to recognize our personal biases.

Naïve cynicism is a cognitive bias that helps explain why humans usually notice other people’s errors more easily than we notice them in ourselves. The term was first coined by Kruger and Gilovich (1999), the first researchers to study this phenomenon experimentally. They performed various studies that all aimed at examining how individuals have cynical expectations regarding how others take responsibility. In one of the studies, pairs of participants played a video game together and then assessed how responsibility for the game outcome was divided between them. They reported their own responsibility for different elements of the game and also how they predicted the other player would divide it. The participants tended to believe that their teammate would take more accountability for elements of the game that contributed to winning over unwanted outcomes of the games such as “missed shots” or “lives lost”. It turns out that people expect others to take more responsibility for themselves in a selfish way, even though that may not be the reality (Kruger & Gilovich, 1999). This expectation that others will egotistically make judgments is a result of naïve cynicism. But, cognitively, how is this phenomenon explained?

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Rhymes and Reasons, why Poetry is Treason

November 26th, 2019 5 comments

Tale as old as time, why we believe rhymes. Does the truth reside or it is a lie? From childhood to adulthood,

Apples are good for you, but that doesn’t mean that you can avoid going to the doctor altogether! (https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-illustration-apple-day-keeps-doctor-away-funny-version-proverb-motivational-inspirational-poster-representing-sayings-simple-image49903569)

we are surrounded by rhymes of all kinds. First, they were nursery rhymes and now they take the forms of aphorisms and commercial slogans. Though we might not realize it, these rhymes have the ability to affect how we perceive the world. Given the choice between “woes unite foes” or “woes unite enemies,” participants generally found the former more accurate although the two phrases have similar meanings (McGlone & Tofighbakhsh, 2000). Why is that? The answer lies in a phenomenon called the Rhyme as Reason Effect, which means that we are more likely to believe something to be true if it rhymes. Think about it, how many times have you been told “i before e except after c” or “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and thought that they were sound advice? Though these phrases are not necessarily correct, they are often repeated and believed to be true.

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Repetition Makes Fact

November 26th, 2019 2 comments

 

Read it & weep, Wakefield!

In 1998, Andrew Wakefield caused quite a stir when he published a dubious study in a renowned medical journal suggesting the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine was linked to the development of autism (Rao and Andrade, 2011). This study terrified parents and, consequently, led to a sharp decline in MMR vaccination rates among children. Shortly after Wakefield’s article was published, numerous scientific studies were conducted that refuted and, ultimately, debunked Wakefield’s fictitious claims. However, it took 12 whole years for the Lancet, the medical journal in which Wakefield’s study was initially published, to issue a formal retraction of Wakefield’s article on the grounds of deliberate fraud (Rao and Andrade, 2011). In 2008 and 2009, while vaccination rates were on the decline, the measles came back in full force, plaguing the UK, United States, and Canada (Rao and Andrade, 2011). As a result of the chaos that ensued following his erroneous declaration, Andrew Wakefield lost his medical license. How could such an unfounded claim inspire so much mistrust? Good question. A prime culprit in perpetuating the belief in Wakefield’s false claim was repetition.

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Is there truth to the Hot-Hand Fallacy?

April 27th, 2018 2 comments

Have you ever been playing a game of basketball with friends and then you make a shot, and then you make the next one? Did your confidence suddenly go up, despite the fact that the chances of you making the shot again are exactly the same as they were before? You, my friend, have just fallen victim to the hot hand fallacy.  The hot hand fallacy is the belief that because a person has had a successful experience with one event they will be able to reproduce the same event with success again or vice versa where if they miss they are more likely to miss again. The hot hand fallacy has been accepted by the psychology community as a cognitive illusion. A mistake in processing and in pattern recognition, but what if the hot-hand fallacy is not a fallacy at all?

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Don’t mess with the flow, no, no! Stick to the status quo!

April 17th, 2017 4 comments

Have you been using the same brand of toothpaste for years? Do you tend to eat the same meal everyday? Do you stay on Facebook for hours simply because it was pulled up on your computer when you turned it on?

HSM “Stick to the status quo”

Each of these situations may be a result of your status quo bias. You’ve probably heard of the status quo, maybe that High School Musical song is floating around somewhere in your head. The status quo is exactly how Chad Danforth sang it- it’s the situation that you’re in at each moment in time. For you, right now, it is sitting (or laying or standing) at a computer (or mobile device!) and reading this awesome blog about the status quo bias (whoa your status quo is reading about the status quo!). Now the status quo bias deviates here from High School Musical. Where the Wildcats were singing for everyone to stick to the status quo because it was better or superior to any alternative, the status quo bias is basically sticking with the status quo because it’s the status quo. Read more…

Decisions – Are you making any?

April 17th, 2017 No comments

Every day, we make countless numbers of small decisions. What am I going to wear? Where should I go for lunch? Should I sign up for a drama class next semester? If you are a high school or college student, you are probably making decisions about these all the time. Remember that time in the High School Musical (the movie), when the lead actor, Troy Bolton, had to make a really tough decision? He had an option to try something new and sing with his crush, Gabriella, but his basketball team, the Wildcats, asked him to stick to the stuff he already knew.

HSM 1 – Stick to The Status Quo

Now, if you love High School Musical as much as I do, you probably remember that the Wildcats asked Troy to stick to the status quo. Now, you probably always wanted to know, what is the status quo? Let me answer that for you.

Status Quo is a cognitive bias that occurs when a person is faced with a complex decision to make and chooses to stay in his or her current state, refraining from looking for an alternative. Our everyday decisions may be the result of the status quo bias.

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Please DON’T read this article, but…

April 16th, 2017 3 comments

Obviously, there was nothing special at the arrow, but you must have stared at that arrow for some time.
Source: https://door32.wordpress.com/2009/03/08/reverse-psychology/

… But I know you are going to read more. Isn’t it weird that the author tells you not to read his brainchild? Isn’t it bizarre that I have written an anti-advertisement? Isn’t it interesting that you realize you have almost finished reading the first paragraph? Yes you have.

Also you might have seen the emergency exits labeled “EMERGENCY, DON’T EXIT”. Haven’t you asked yourself why that sign is so paradoxical that you would spend minutes deciding whether to exit? Or you have heard a parent telling a running toddler “I bet you won’t catch me”, and almost immediately the adult was caught by that toddler. For so many times you might have asked why to have that deception. You have probably heard of the famous “smoke a pack per day” slogan in quitting smoking, and if so, aren’t you curious why encouraging smoking actually helps people quit?

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