Cognitive Bias In Decision-making Process
If faced with a dire decision to be made in but a fraction of second, could this action be trusted to be rational and logical? The human brain, when faced with such situations, tends to take mental shortcuts to make dire decisions and judgments based on the context of information the brain is given. These mental shortcuts, or cognitive biases, cause the decision-making process to be faster but cannot be relied upon for objectivity. Often the brain prefers not to take the time to adequately assess the situation at hand in order to make a decision. This is how cognitive biases form, which can be detrimental to one’s situation. These biases impair an individual’s judgment, causing them to make poor decisions based in subjectivity.
All humans alike struggle to produce creative but practical solutions in which is needed to go about tackling problematic situations that occur as well as complex dilemmas. For one to fully trust their decision and resolution, they must use a rational thought process in order to produce the best possible output. However, what defines a “rational thought” differs from person to person. In accordance with Analytic Processes for School Leaders “Rational thinking is the ability to consider the relevant variables of a situation and to access, organize, and analyze relevant information (e.g., facts, opinions, judgments, and data) to arrive at a sound conclusion” (Richetti and Tregoe). In this context, rationality represents the human ability to think without bias and consider all available possibilities. In order to preserve consistency, this will be the definition of rationality used throughout this essay.
The premise of cognitive bias is inherently irrational. Cognitive biases cause repetitive irrational acts due to subconscious desires for certain answers and decisions. The most common bias being confirmation bias, which is the tendency to interpret information in a way that confirms one’s prior beliefs. A bias created from an individual’s refusal to accept that they are wrong. This bias is most commonly used with elections, in which parties only put forth pleasant information about their candidate while sweeping unpleasant information under the rug. Conservatism bias, much like confirmation bias, is the main bias among individuals. Conservatism is the disposition to refuse to compromise one’s beliefs when given new information. When given one complex solution and one easily explained solution many chose the easily explained solution. People don’t want to accept what they don’t understand. As Thoreau once put it “[a] man receives only what he is ready to receive…” (Thoreau)
When faced with major decisions individuals tackle cognitive biases in which they must utilize multiple objective sources of information in order to prevent bias from causing an irrational judgment. If an individual finds themselves ignoring information that is hard to comprehend or taking bits of data to confirm prejudice while dismissing other data then it might be time to take a better look at things. One must take the time to ask for an opposing opinion and not simply dismiss information just because it may prove them to be wrong. The best way to approach one’s own bias is to ask questions that oppose their beliefs. The best thing to do when understanding information is not possible is to go to someone else who does understand it and get their opinion. Many refuse to accept that they don’t understand something but they don’t realize that if they do they can begin to understand it by getting someone to explain it to them.
Cognitive bias is used by the human brain unconsciously and can lead to irrational behavioral decisions causing misconception in information and judgment. Everyone is susceptible to cognitive biases rather they accept it or not but if one can recognize when they are using a cognitive bias then they can then begin to confront it. Recognizing a bias is just as simple as understanding the actions that one is taking and from there start to analyze information from all aspects, gain viewpoints from a third party. Finding all the information related on that subject can help one avoid the most common cognitive bias. The better one is at understanding all the information and aspects of a situation the more sound the solution will be. “Don’t answer your questions before even starting your research.”
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