Personal Development, Posts, Understand Yourself

Outsmart your Confirmation Bias

The first cognitive bias that we will review in the series “Outsmart Your Biases” is the Confirmation Bias, that is, the tendency to search for, interpret and recall information in a way that confirms our opinion, and neglect information that contradicts it.

The Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is one of the most common biases that have direct consequences on our personal life and professional career. The examples are endless. We often seek information to prove that our political party is right. When we like a person, we don’t want to see her character flaws. To prove the validity of our proposed strategy we search on google for “Is the [proposed strategy] better than [opposite strategy]?”. In a job interview, we frame our questions in a way to confirm our beliefs or our first impression of the candidate. etc… Try to figure out in which decision you were prone to it.

Jeff Bezos about today’s internet: “a Confirmation Bias Machine”.

To outsmart your confirmation bias, you may use the following tricks:

  • Ask for an outside view of the topic at hand and seek criticism.
  • Search for the pros and cons of the different options.
  • Suppose the opposite: be the devil’s advocate.

Such debiasing strategies can be performed in brainstorming format, in informal discussion, etc.

Personal Development, Posts, Understand Yourself

Outsmart Your Biases

Do you think you are rational? Are you sure that you often make the best decision? Do you feel that your reasoning is superior to that of others? Do you regret some acts and wish you had thought more before committing them? You are, like all human beings, a victim of your cognitive biases.

What is cognitive bias?

Cognition is the mental process of understanding and acquiring knowledge. Cognitive bias is an unconscious cognitive process in human psychology that makes us prone to errors in our reasoning and judgment. It is the gap between rational thinking and our actual way of thinking.

There exists a lot of biases that affect our interaction with the world; we seek pattern in everything even if there is none, we confuse correlation with causality, we hire people who are similar to us, we don’t react the same way to the same information if framed differently, we don’t understand why the opposite side don’t see the ‘truth’, we overestimate our knowledge, etc.

Cognitive biases are an important cause of many catastrophes and tragedies in business, politics, relationships and everyday life. Outsmarting our cognitive biases is key to good decision making and critical thinking.

A New Blog Post Series “Outsmart your Biases”

Outsmart your biases is a forthcoming series of posts that will discuss some of the major cognitive biases, illustrated with examples; the confirmation bias, the availability heuristic, the Dunning-Kruger effect, the planning fallacy, the halo effect and more. In this series, you will find mental tricks and processes that you can use to outsmart these biases and become a better decision-maker. Stay tuned!

Management, Personal Development, Posts

What is Your Personality Type ?

Every human being is unique. Each of us has a unique DNA, a unique experience of life, and a unique outlook to the future. Nonetheless, as a species – Homo sapiens, we all share some traits at different degrees: we tend to over-generalize, we procrastinate, we are curious, etc. Moreover, if we scan the history and the geography of human societies, we notice some patterns in the characters: the leader, the soldier, the scientist, the rebel, the traitor, the altruist, etc. We don’t find it difficult to compare one or more characters of a story to other characters in other stories…

The study of human behavior and personality has gained increased attention in the last two centuries and has evolved from pseudoscience theories (such as phrenology and physiognomy) to an established branch of psychology.

In a previous post “Who Are You, Really? – Brian Little“, the personality is defined as the result of the following determinants: biogenic (inherited genes), sociogenic (culture and values) and idiogenic (individual decisions and will) traits. The OCEAN model for human personalities and behavior was used as a tool to assess the basic personality traits.

Many other models exist in the literature. In this post, the following personality models are presented: MBTI, FIRO-B, SDI, and DISC. These models are widely used today in the corporate world (in hiring and management), and they are part of some management programs. All the models are based on psychological research studies and are formulated as introspective self-report questionnaires that can be found online.

MBTI – Myer Briggs Type Indicator

The  Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality assessment model that was constructed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. It is based on the conceptual theory proposed by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. The personality traits are grouped into four categories:

  • Introversion / Extraversion: What is your source of energy? From inside yourself (I) or from people (E).
  • Sensing / INtuition: How do you perceive the world? As facts and details (S) or as possibilities and big picture (N).
  • Thinking / Feeling: How do you make decisions? Using analytical thinking (T), or feelings and empathy (F).
  • Judging / Perception: How do you organize your life? To-do lists and instructions (J) or flexibility and improvisation (P).

This produces 16 personality types as shown in the figure below. An individual can fall into one type, or between 2 or more types, depending on its score.

MBTI Continue reading “What is Your Personality Type ?”

Book Review, Personal Development, Posts, TED Talks, Understand Yourself

Who Are You, Really? – Brian Little

Couverture de Who Are You, Really?

Audible Audio-book

  • Title: Who Are You, Really? The Surprising Puzzle of Personality

  • Author: Brian R. Little, PhD
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Recommendation Score: 4.5 / 5

Book Review

Who are you, really? Do you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert? Are you compassionate or rather detached? What defines your personality traits? Can you change your character?

The book “Who are you, really?” provides insights about the personality traits based on latest psychological studies. The good news is: you are not destined to have a certain character, you can change your personality traits. How? By pursuing your personal projects, you define who you are. In other words, the well-doing can change your character, and has an impact on your well-being. More details below.

Biogenic, Sociogenic and Idiogenic selves

The author argues that everyone has three ‘selves’:

  • The biogenic self: your genes define some of the traits of your character. This is the fixed part of your personality.
  • The sociogenic self: other traits of your personality are imposed by your social context and the culture you grew in; people who are important to you, your family, friends and colleagues.
  • The idiogenic self: what you decide to do, your projects and plans, are the last layer of your character. Studies have shown that what you do can even has an impact on the manifestation of your genes, and, in a sense, influence your genome at least temporally.

Fortunately, your genes and social context are not the only determinants of your personality. Your idiogenic self is your hero.

Continue reading “Who Are You, Really? – Brian Little”

Personal Development, Posts, Understand Yourself

The Dunning–Kruger Effect

Dunning-Kruger-Chart-1

Book Review, Posts

The Willpower Instinct – Kelly McGonigal

Image result for The Willpower Instinct

Audible Audio-Book

 

  • TitleThe Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It
  • Author: Kelly McGonigal, PhD
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Recommendation Score: 4.5 / 5

Book Review

The book is written in a “coaching” style, and is full of research-based tips and practices that help you understand better the self-control mechanisms and employ them to gain more willpower.

One of the best interesting ideas that I find helpful is to mind the gap between your “Present self”, that is yourself, and your “Future self”, that super-human that can stick to any plan or budget. More details in the takeaways below.

The intelligent want self-control; children want candy.

Rumi

Some takeaways:

Willpower is a biological instinct, like stress, that evolved to help us protect ourselves from ourselves. It helps us to be a better version of ourselves.

Self-control is like a muscle. It gets tired from use, but regular exercise makes it stronger. When your are too tired, you are most likely to give in to temptations. Self-control is highest in the morning and deteriorates over the course of the day. Try to accomplish your most important tasks early in the morning. When you come back from a hard day of work, exhausted, you are less likely to exercise, and more likely to overeat. Similarly, don’t get yourself into exhaustion before moments of big decisions. This includes sleeping well and eating well. Continue reading “The Willpower Instinct – Kelly McGonigal”

Personal Development, Posts, TED Talks, Understand Yourself

Make Stress your Friend | Kelly McGonigal