Understanding Biases

In recent times, one theme I am really curious about when absorbing any content (either through conversations, books or visual media) is the topic of cognitive bias. My introduction to this topic was through the book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (wiki link here )and I had written about it briefly in another blog of mine. I believe that an important way of showing empathy towards other is to try and understand if they are working on the basis of some of the most common cognitive biases. Some places where I feel we can actively observe (though they may seem absolutely unconnected !) these biases are:

1. Fiction novels, specially legal ones. I love this genre of books for the exact reason that it gives us many illustrations to observe how experts frame and break positions based on one or more of these biases.

2. Discussions, particularly of a political nature. If you watch these discussions (yes, even the shows where the nation wants to know !) dispassionately, you can come up with a long list of quirky arguments from all sides that have interesting origins.

3. Appraisal time in office. Did you know that the fact that people think it is more useful to work hard during appraisal time could be attributed to what is referred to as recency effect ?

4. Conversations with people who are from an entirely different demographic (age, socio-economic class, region).

5. You could even pick up two news articles written by different agencies (let’s say without any murky agendas but just of different ideologies) and see how they differ.

Understanding cognitive biases has important uses. It helps in better decision making, avoiding conflict, better storytelling and just to help each other out. Taking sides in an argument is easy. It is however much more valuable to understand and correct for biases !

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