We all have to make decisions at work. People do this in different ways – some do a comparison of pros and cons, others are more apt to go with their gut, while still others like to solicit opinions from various colleagues.
We all want to make the best decision possible. And we all like to think we can make good decisions, those based on evidence and rationality. But humans are not as infallible here as we would like to believe because very often, things like emotions, ego and prejudices get in the way of making a purely rational decision. Psychologists have a name for these other things that get in the way. They are called cognitive biases because they color our thinking in ways they shouldn’t.
Here are a few of those biases that we all need to watch out for, so we don’t fall victim to them.
1. Anchoring bias
This is when we fixate on the first piece of information we get. Because it is the first, it assumes an importance out of all proportion to information we receive later.
2. Recency bias
This is the flip side of the anchoring bias, where we tend to focus on the last piece of information we receive, giving it a significance it often does not deserve.
3. Cluster bias
This is the tendency we have to take a group of completely random events and assign some kind of pattern to them where none really exists. This happens often in the stock market, where investors claim to see patterns in stock movements when in reality, it may just be wishful thinking.
4. Framing bias
The way that information is presented to us can color our thinking when it should not. For example, if someone told you that a certain plan has a 60 percent chance of success, you might be more likely to adopt it than if the person told you the plan has a 40 percent chance of failure.
5. Choice supportive bias
This is the tendency we have to support our choices simply because we are the ones making them. Often, overconfidence leads to this bias, when we have a faith in our abilities that maybe they don’t warrant.
6. Confirmation bias
This is the tendency we have to take all new information that comes in as support or confirmation for the beliefs and theories we already hold.
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