To every of our decisions, judgements, beliefs or opinions, there is a battle of the minds — a battle between intuition and logic
We may like to think we are capable of making rational decisions, just so you know, the intuition part of your is a lot more stronger.
The logical part of your mind that is capable of analyzing a problem and coming up with a rational answer. This is the part of your mind that you are aware of. It is an expert at solving problems, but it is slow, requires a great deal of energy, and is extremely lazy. Even the act of walking is enough to occupy most of your attentive mind — If you are asked to solve a tricky problem while walking, you will most likely stop because your attentive mind cannot attend to both tasks at the same time. But then the intuitive part of your mind is fast and automatic. This fast way of thinking is incredibly powerful, but totally hidden. It is so powerful, it is actually responsible for most of the things that you say, do, think and believe.
Most of the time, our fast- intuitive mind is in control, efficiently taking charge of all the thousands of decisions we make each day. When we allow our fast- intuitive system to make decisions that we really should pass over to our slow- logical system, cognitive biases creeps in – systematic errors we make all the time without realizing.
According to Prof Daniel Kahneman, from Princeton University, “if we think that we have reasons for what we believe, that is often a mistake. Our beliefs and our wishes and our hopes are not always anchored in reasons”. Since he first investigated this radical picture of the mind, the list of identified cognitive biases has mushroomed.
The “present bias” causes us to pay attention to what is happening now, but not to worry about the future. If I offer you half a box of chocolates in a year’s time, or a whole box in a year and a day, you’ll probably choose to wait the extra day. But if I offer you half a box of chocolates right now, or a whole box of chocolates tomorrow, you will most likely take half a box of chocolates now. It’s the same difference, but waiting an extra day in a year’s time seems insignificant. Waiting a day now seems impossible when faced with the immediate promise of chocolate.
The “confidence bias” causes a jury to easily fall victim of confusing a
speaker’s confidence with his or her credibility. It also makes us trust medical advices more when doctors confidently gives them to us rather than consulting a reference before they do.
The “attention bias” makes us feel like we’re paying enough attention, for example, when we are driving and simultaneously texting on the phone. However, when our attention is divided between two tasks, research finds that our performance on both tasks is poorer when compared to the situation where our attention is focused on one task alone. The problem is that we often don’t notice this performance deficit until the unexpected occurs and it is too late.
There’s the confirmation bias, hindsight bias, the halo effect, the spotlight effect, loss aversion, negativity bias and many others. We are irrational in all kinds of ways but we can make better decisions by examining our assumptions before jumping to conclusions.