09 Dec 8 mistakes you’re probably making every day but should be aware of
by Belle Beth Cooper
Get ready to have your mind blown.
I was seriously shocked at some of these mistakes in thinking that I subconsciously make all the time. Obviously, none of them are huge, life-threatening mistakes, but they are really surprising and avoiding them could help us to make more rational, sensible decisions.
Being aware of the mistakes we naturally have in our thinking can make a big difference in avoiding them. Unfortunately, most of these occur subconsciously, so it will also take time and effort to avoid them—if you even want to.
Regardless, I think it’s fascinating to learn more about how we think and make decisions every day, so let’s take a look at some of these thinking habits we didn’t know we had.
1. We surround ourselves with information that matches our beliefs
We tend to like people who think like us. If we agree with someone’s beliefs, we’re more likely to be friends with them. While this makes sense, it means that we subconsciously begin to ignore or dismiss anything that threatens our world views, since we surround ourselves with people and information that confirm what we already think.
This is called confirmation bias. If you’ve ever heard of the frequency illusion, this is very similar. The frequency illusion occurs when you buy a new car, and suddenly you see the same car everywhere. Or when a pregnant woman suddenly notices other pregnant women all over the place. It’s a passive experience, where our brains seek out information that’s related to us, but we believe there’s been an actual increase in the frequency of those occurrences.
Confirmation bias is a more active form of the same experience. It happens when we proactively seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs.
Not only do we do this with the information we take in, but we approach our memories this way, as well. In an experiment in 1979 at the University of Minnesota, participants read a story about a women called Jane who acted extroverted in some situations and introverted in others. When the participants returned a few days later, they were divided into two groups. One group was asked if Jane would be suited to a job as a librarian, the other group were asked about her having a job as a real-estate agent. The librarian group remembered Jane as being introverted and later said that she would not be suited to a real-estate job. The real-estate group did the exact opposite: they remembered Jane as extroverted, said she would be suited to a real-estate job and when they were later asked if she would make a good librarian, they said no.
In 2009, a study at Ohio State showed that we will spend 36 percent more time reading an essay if it aligns with our opinions.
Whenever your opinions or beliefs are so intertwined with your self-image you couldn’t pull them away without damaging your core concepts of self, you avoid situations which may cause harm to those beliefs. – David McRaney
This trailer for David McRaney’s book, You are Now Less Dumb, explains this concept really well with a story about how people used to think geese grew on trees (seriously), and how challenging our beliefs on a regular basis is the only way to avoid getting caught up in the confirmation bias:
2. We believe in the “swimmer’s body” illusion
This has to be one of my favorite thinking mistakes I came across. In Rolf Dobelli’s book, The Art of Thinking Clearly, he explains how our ideas about talent and extensive training are well off-track:
Professional swimmers don’t have perfect bodies because they train extensively. Rather, they are good swimmers because of their physiques. How their bodies are designed is a factor for selection and not the result of their activities.
The “swimmer’s body illusion” occurs when we confuse selection factors with results. Another good example is top performing universities: are they actually the best schools, or do they choose the best students, who do well regardless of the school’s influence?
What really jumped out at me when researching this section was this particular line from Dobelli’s book:
Without this illusion, half of advertising campaigns would not work.
It makes perfect sense, when you think about it. If we believed that we were predisposed to be good at certain things (or not), we wouldn’t buy into ad campaigns that promised to improve our skills in areas where it’s unlikely we’ll ever excel…
…keep reading the full article HERE