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Psychological Biases

I sneak peek at my upcoming book. Still the first draft, but hopefully you Ian some knowlage from this list.

    1. Normalcy Bias

    Normalcy bias is the tendency for people to underestimate the severity or impact of a potential disaster or crisis. It occurs when people believe that things will continue to operate as they always have, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. This bias can cause individuals and organisations to fail to prepare for, or respond effectively to, a disaster or crisis. Normalcy bias can lead people to ignore warning signs or to be complacent about potential risks. It can also cause them to be slow to take action or to underestimate the resources required to respond effectively. By recognising and overcoming the normalcy bias, individuals and organisations can improve their preparedness for, and response to, potential disasters and crises.

    You’re in a hotel room. You’ve just jumped into the shower and the fire alarm goes. Do you quickly wrap a towel around you and escape the building or do you say ‘Meh. It’s probably just a drill’ and turn on the shower? Even though their is a high risk of death many of us will fall for the normalcy bias and pick the shower. It’s probably just a drill anyway, right?

    2. Effort Justification

    Effort justification is a psychological phenomenon in which people who have invested a significant amount of effort, time, or money into a particular task, goal, or product will rationalise their investment and justify their choices, even if the outcomes are not favourable or the original reasons for starting the task have changed. This is often done to avoid the negative emotions that would come with admitting the effort was wasted or the initial decision was wrong. Effort justification can lead to continued investment in an ineffective or unfavourable situation and can influence decisions and behaviours even when the initial reasons for investment are no longer relevant.

    This is also know as the IKEA Effect. Because you need to put effort into building your furniture you appreciate it more. Legos the same, the fun is in the building. After you place a bet your confidence about your decision goes up. After you buy a product you double down on why it’s better than similar products.

    3. The Ben Franklin Effect

    The Ben Franklin effect is a psychological phenomenon in which a person's attitude towards someone they have performed a favour for becomes more positive. The theory is based on an experiment conducted by Benjamin Franklin, who observed that after doing a favour for someone, he found that his feelings towards that person became more positive and favourable

    After doing someone a favour we rationalise it by saying we must have done it because we like the person.  We wouldn’t do a favour for someone we dislike, would we?

    4. The Backfire Effect

    The backfire effect refers to the phenomenon where people who hold strong beliefs on a certain topic become even more entrenched in those beliefs when presented with evidence that contradicts them. The backfire effect is often used to explain why people continue to hold onto false beliefs and misinformation despite being presented with evidence to the contrary.

    Have you ever changed someones mind with evidence? Probably not. I’m guessing they dismissed it or worked up a story to prove that the evidence supports their point and not yours. Next time you see it don’t view their actions as ignorant, see them for what they are, The Backfire Effect.

    5. Expectation Bias

    Expectation bias is the tendency for people to interpret or recall information in a way that conforms to their expectations, beliefs, or hypotheses. This means that people's prior expectations can influence how they process new information.

    The abortion debate is based on our expectations. Is it a ‘foetus’ or a ‘baby’ everything else is based upon these expectations. The same for the trans debate ‘feelings = gender’ vs ‘sex = gender’. All our beliefs change how we view the world.

    6. Want more?

    Check out my blog post for more biases.


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