Judgement:10 judgemental biases to avoid. 10 improvements to your decision making.
As you may know, about a month ago I released a short ‘PocketBook ‘ called Judgement: Judgement:10 judgemental biases to avoid.10 improvements to your decision making.’. This ebook outlines some key psychological principles which will help you improve your everyday judgements and decision making. Each principle is outlined in an accessible way, and comes with a number of clear improvements which you can action immediately. These are all outlined in 600 words or less, making it easy to dip in and out of.
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To give you an idea of the contents, here is an excerpt!
Chapter 5. Confirmation bias
In an ideal world, we would evaluate each situation on its own merits. When we make a judgement, we would seek information to inform it in an unbiased and thorough manner. Unfortunately, as we are cognitive misers and motivated tacticians (See Chapters 1 & 2), we don’t. Confirmation bias is a tendency to interpret the world in a way which fits with our existing beliefs. It is strongest when emotions are running high, and affects people of all levels of intelligence. It is an automatic (’fast’) process which is unintentional. It can also be affected by a desire to remain consistent in the eyes of ourselves and others (see the planning fallacy).
One way confirmation bias manifests is apparent in the way we seek out and process information. For instance, we tend to seek information which confirms our existing view. Given we make decisions in complex situations in which evidence for multiple outcomes is usually present, this makes it more likely we find information which supports our existing position. Moreover, we notice (and think less about) information which is inconsistent with our beliefs less readily than consistent information.
Confirmation bias can distort our interpretation of the evidence which is in front of us. When viewing ambiguous information, we understand it in such a way that it supports our own position. We also tend to have a bias towards considering arguments which fit our existing beliefs to be more important than we do those which challenge them. Finally, our memory can also be affected by the confirmation bias. We recall information which fits our beliefs (or our expectations) more consistently and more easily than belief inconsistent information.
This bias is particularly problematic as it can lead us to be overconfident, unable to process new information effectively and generally be irrational and inflexible in our decision making.
First, and most importantly, try and cultivate an attitude of ‘active open-mindedness’. Do not just try and avoid ignoring information which does not confirm your judgement- actively seek it out and test your ideas. When people challenge your opinions, try and welcome it as a chance to quality assure your ideas, rather than someone threatening your opinion (and, by extension, yourself). When you are trying to understand a new situation, avoid jumping to conclusions -once you have an initial ‘hunch’, which may not be based on much evidence, you will find it difficult to switch to new judgements. To remedy this, try and generate three alternative explanations, then look for evidence of each. If you do have a hunch (which is often an automatic response, given our tendency to think fast), note what your initial evidence is, and be suspicious of it and yourself. Finally, try to overcome the desire to be self-consistent in your attitudes at the expense of good judgements. Instead, try and consistently be open-minded, and willing to shift in response to new information.
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