Have you ever wondered why you make a bad decision? Would you believe me if I said that you are predisposed to biases that formulate as you go through life?
The mind can be a tricky little thing if you let it. I want to talk about decision-making and biases. The biases that cause you to make bad decisions are unconscious; you are not even aware they are playing a role.
To get the place you want to be in life, you will have to unlearn what doesn’t support you in your success.
Biases are a strong inclination of the mind or a preconceived opinion about something or someone. There are times when biases are favorable, but it’s helpful to be aware of them when they show up regardless.
I will discuss seven biases you go through in life, how to recognize them, and how you can change them.
1. Confirmation Bias
Isn’t it nice when everyone agrees with you? Turns out, we see what we want to see.
Confirmation bias is when you seek people who confirm our beliefs or values. You follow people who confirm your beliefs. For example, you follow people on social media who hold your same beliefs or values. Have you found yourself ignoring information that challenges your beliefs or only remembering details that uphold your beliefs?
There is nothing wrong with upholding your belief system. The problem arises when you are not open to others and their values and beliefs. One way to challenge this bias is to start to question what is happening and expand your circle. Who are you following on social media? How many news sources are you looking at? Question how diverse your network is.
2. Post-Purchase Rationalization Bias
For all you online shoppers filling up your carts during quarantine, this one is for you! Post-purchase rationalization is when you purchase a product or service then proceed to overlook any faults. You make yourself feel better about your bad $500 Amazon purchase.
Let’s use a cell phone, for example. You take the splurge and buy the new phone only to realize a short while later, the newest version comes out and you decide that you need that version because it’s got a nicer camera, and go and upgrade. Afterward, you rationalize why you bought it.
You can overcome this by being ok in making a bad purchase, or making the return when you can.
3. Probability Paradigm
Do you ever notice how sometimes we fear things that aren’t statistically likely to kill us?
Take for instance you have a higher probability of dying in a car accident than an airplane. For a car, the odds are 1 in 103 and for the airplane, it’s 1 in 11 million, but as you know more people are fearful of flying than driving.
When making this personal, think about your own life and how much you stress about things that will are just statistically unlikely to happen, and if they did you could easily overcome them. You can overcome this bias by doing research and accepting what is. (Editor’s Note: Byron Katie has a great process for accepting what is.)
4. Selection Bias
We see more of what we seek. Have you ever noticed that when you buy a new red car that all of a sudden you see more red cars just like yours on the road? This can also apply to thoughts. When you look for good people, you find good people, and when you look for bad people you find bad people. So… why not seek out the good in the world?
5. Status Quo
Status quo is an emotional bias, a preference to keep things the same, and any change to that baseline is perceived as a loss. Meanwhile, things always change.
How do you overcome feel more comfortable with change? It’s possible to start with small changes daily. You could start with a new route to work or changing up your morning routine.
6. Negativity Bias
Our tendency is not only to register negative stimuli more readily but also to dwell on these events. By nature, you are more susceptible to negativity. It’s so important to recognize that repeated negativity does not help you grow.
You can challenge this bias by simply tuning out when you hear or see negativity, so you can make it a conscious effort and chose things that help you think positively.
7. Projection Bias
While it’s hard sometimes to believe that the world doesn’t revolve around us, people don’t all think the same way we do. Projection bias is the belief that people think like you. You tend to believe people are just like you. How many times have you thought someone is as trustworthy as you, only to let you down?
This can easily overcome by setting expectations early, and recognizing that we’ve all lived different life experiences.
My goal is to help you grow into your best version of yourself. I hope the bias has raised your awareness of how you think and what you can do to overcome them. What bias do you find yourself falling into the most?