A cognitive bias is an error in thinking that happens when people try to understand information or make decisions. In simple terms, they are nothing but mental shortcuts that the brain takes to simplify how we process information. The purpose of these shortcuts is to make our brains more efficient. However, these biases can lead to consistent mistakes in our thinking. That’s because they depend on how we see, notice, and remember things rather than on real, proven facts. The most common examples of cognitive biases are:
- Confirmation bias- A type of bias where we selectively pay attention to information that is consistent with our beliefs while ignoring contradictory evidence. For ex- Assuming a sports team always wins, only following news and statistics that support this belief, ignoring losses and challenges.
- Availability Bias- A type of bias where we make decisions based on recent, easily available information, which can lead to wrongful judgements. Ex- Believing that all startups fail, because you recently read about failed startups.
While a lot of cognitive biases are unconscious, we can make conscious efforts to avoid them. Here are a few ways you can avoid cognitive biases while making decisions.
The first step to overcoming cognitive biases is to increase self-awareness. Increasing self-awareness involves acknowledging and becoming aware of cognitive biases. Once you are aware of the different types of cognitive biases, consider how these biases might be impacting your decision-making currently. Research suggests that becoming aware of cognitive biases and their impact on decision-making reduces their effects significantly.
Open-mindedness is an effective way to cope with cognitive biases. Having an open mind stops us from assuming that we have all the information that we need to make decisions. It also helps us to consider alternative opinions and viewpoints that challenge our current beliefs. Being open-minded prevents us from being rigid. Which in turn allows us to avoid biases.
Consider the factors influencing your decisions.
Thinking about what factors are influencing your decisions is an effective way to avoid bias. These factors can include your emotions, recent experiences, and the information available to you. Being aware of these factors helps you determine if they are leading to a biased decision.
Challenging your perspectives
If you notice that any biases might be influencing your decisions, try to challenge them. Are you considering all aspects of the situation while making the decision? , Is there some information that you might have missed or ignored while making the decision? These are a few questions you can use to challenge your perspective. Challenging your biases will help you think more critically.
Rapid decision-making can often lead to biases, as it may involve relying on intuition or making judgments based on limited information. Slowing down the decision-making process allows you to consider all factors and the potential biases that might be influencing your choices.
Consider Other People’s Perspectives
Ask for feedback or advice from other people. Asking others for advice will help you see your decision from multiple perspectives while also challenging your biases in the process. However, it is also important to remember that other people may have their own biases.
Reflecting on past decisions.
Reflecting on past decisions and outcomes allows you to learn from your own experience. Reflecting on your past decisions allows you to look at successful decisions while also helping you identify instances where biases may have played a role. This can help you be more careful and develop strategies to avoid biases in the future.
It is important to remember that everyone experiences cognitive biases in some way or another, but there are steps that we can take to reduce their negative impact on our decision-making. Overcoming cognitive bias requires a combination of self-awareness, open-mindedness, and critical thinking. These practices will help us make decisions effectively.
- Cognitive Bias: What It Is and How to Overcome It. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2023, from https://www.betterup.com/blog/cognitive-bias
- How Cognitive Biases Influence How You Think and Act. (n.d.). Verywell Mind. Retrieved November 16, 2023, from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-cognitive-bias-2794963
- Ph.D, A. N. (2020, August 5). What Is Cognitive Bias? 7 Examples & Resources (Incl. Codex). PositivePsychology.Com. https://positivepsychology.com/cognitive-biases/