Life is one big poker game in which we don’t have all the facts to place our decisions (aka bets). Our bets include deciding on a job offer, moving cities, buying a car, or even ordering Chinese instead of Italian. Are you a bias decision-maker? Sorry to break it to you, but you probably are! How can you overcome bias and become a better bettor?
Bias Bias Bias
We all have some sort of bias, and sometimes we even know it. Have you ever thought “Ugh, I should’ve seen this coming?” – that’s hindsight bias right there. Hindsight bias explains individuals’ inclination to believe that past events are predictable (example: I should have known that this will happen). This bias also describes individuals’ tendency to deduce, after the occurrence of an event, that their projection of the outcome was more accurate than it actually was (example: I knew for sure that this will happen. <— oh, no, you did not, you little hindsight bias!).
We are also subject to resulting. When the outcomes of our decisions are unsatisfactory, we are inclined to view our decisions themselves as inadequate. We tend to mistake the quality of the outcome with the quality of the decision itself. Such cognitive traps lead to assuming causation when there is only correlation, and cherry-picking data.
Decisions are not always black or white; uncertainty paints a wide range of grey in between – 50 shades, maybe more. It is inaccurate to think that a decision is ALWAYS right and another is ALWAYS wrong. This way of thinking can transform our mindsets from (“I don’t know” vs “I know”) to (“I don’t know” vs “I’m not sure”). This astute perspective shift enables us to ask “how unsure?”. The answer is rarely 0 or 100. Instead, how unsure you are slides between the two extremes in what I like to call an Uncertainty Scale. The answer to “how unsure?” helps us make an informative decision in placing our bets.
What are you betting on today? Ah, tough call. Slide the Uncertainty Scale and figure out how unsure and hopefully you decision-making will not be that impossible!
This article was originally posted on Zahraa’s blog.