Cognitive Biases Essay
Number of words: 1169
Ruth and Michael (2020) define cognitive bias as people’s judgment errors due to their irrational thought processes. Alternatively, Gilovich (2016) defines cognitive bias as a source of error in judgment and decision-making caused by misconceptions that may be related to how we want the world to be or incorrect information. In other words, cognitive biases are the mental shortcuts taken to try and understand massive amounts of information. These biases have unfavorable consequences that might be more severe in some instances than others. Cognitive biases help people to simplify the world making it a challenging process to let go of. Also, they explain why even the brightest minds around act foolishly, and the most brilliant individuals can be wrong about numerous things. There are several types of cognitive biases discussed by Gilovich (2016), which I believe might impact my personal and professional aspirations.
The first and most common type of cognitive bias is confirmation bias (Ruth & Michael, 2020). This refers to the bias resulting from one focusing on information that supports their beliefs only. When any contradictory piece of information is presented to them, they struggle with confirmation bias and either disregard this new information entirely or twist their interpretation to fit what they believe. This bias will potentially affect me professionally and personally as it will be limiting my potential to buy into new ideas and perceptions. The most common example will be the controversies that are surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine today. Many people believe that they are being turned into zombies despite several scientists giving results contrary to the fact. Those who fail to take the vaccine do so because the old idea is ingrained in their brains, and they are not willing to entertain change. Moreover, not accepting new ideas will impede growth in my professional life as I will have only one way of doing things. This approach might not support innovation.
I have a goal to open a social work center and help families and children with counseling in the future. Being in a managerial position means that I have to be more than keen on noticing any forms of bias that might affect my decision-making. Thus the second cognitive bias is the false consensus effect (Ruth & Michael, 2020). This type of bias makes one believe that more people than in reality actually agree with the decisions they make. As a leader, foregoing the input from your team members or employees because you assume that you know best is a managerial mistake that could significantly impact your tenure. Professionally and even personally, one has to be open-minded to learn new things from others regardless of their professional position or their social class.
The bandwagon effect (Ruth & Michael, 2020) is another form of bias likely to limit my personal and professional growth. Almost all successful leaders had to do things far from societal expectations, take risks, and adopt conventional ways of doing things that helped push their ventures to another level. However, this form of bias implies that one takes up a certain view because it is the popular opinion, and many people are doing it in society. It is a herd mentality, and individuals live in fear of social rejection in case they express dissent. This form of bias makes one comfortable with the way things are, and there is no motivation to improve what there is to something bigger or better. The professional aspect of my life has big aspirations where I hope to open my practice and help more people. However, if I have this bias hanging over my shoulders, high chances indicate that I will fail to open my wings and achieve my potential because of fear of seeing and doing things differently.
The choice-supportive bias (Ruth & Michael, 2020) is a risky form of cognitive bias that will likely impede my personal and professional growth. This bias occurs when we associate our decisions with the positive aspects or results of said decisions while ignoring the adverse effects. Even today, when we contribute to a person’s success, we often want to be associated with them. However, if a person we are helping turns out to be doing something negative, we dissociate ourselves with them and would not want our names mentioned in the same sentence as them. As a professional, every decision one makes can have positive and negative effects; thus, a leader must accept both outcomes and handle them well. Not doing so will mean that I am progressing without recognizing the consequences of my actions and decisions, which might cause my downfall.
As illustrated, our biases are part of who we are, and one should not be mistaken to believe that they can be totally eliminated. However, we may take some steps to mitigate cognitive biases. The first thing is to be aware of my biases through attending training exercises that use feedback information to challenge the mentioned biases. Once one is aware of their biases, it is essential to challenge their assumptions on specific issues. Regular feedback allows for self-reflection, thus making it easy for one to question their biases. Lastly is the indulgence in the revolution feedback to ensure we are promoting impartiality. This mechanism helps evaluate my performance as an individual and as a leader, thus eliminating biases like the consensus bias as I get to see the number of employees who actually agree with my decisions. Any other forms of bias can be flagged and addressed.
As with any other phenomena, cognitive biases have been studied scientifically. One such research is the study by Ehrlinger, Readinger, and Kim (2016) that claimed people make quick decisions unconsciously based on their cognitive schemas or shortcuts and aimed to highlight the most common cognitive biases among people. The findings of this study have affirmed what I believe to be the common way of life of many people who subconsciously make decisions and stand by them regardless of their personal cognitive biases. The shortcuts we use in understanding things make it possible to see the world in a way we can understand it best. This study confirms that cognitive stances are valuable tools used in navigating the complex social landscape. The authors offer insight into the differences in judgment between the different forms of thought processes. This conclusion has changed my approach to the topic of cognitive bias. Instead of looking at it from a negative perspective, I get to see the reason behind the difference in the way people see things and why one experience could eventually have different conclusions from different people.
Ehrlinger, J., Readinger, W. O., & Kim, B. (2016). Decision-making and cognitive biases. Encyclopedia of mental health, 12.
Gilovich, T. D. (201 6). Cognitive bias [Video]. SAGE Knowledge. https://www-doi-org.csugIobal.idm.oclc.org/10.4135/9781473959842 SAGE Video – Tom Gilovich Defines Cognitive Bias (sagepub.com)
Ruth, & Michael. (2020). Cognitive bias. Research Starters. Salem Press Encyclopedia of Health. 2p, 1–4.