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If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The power of an angle, the power of errors and biases

Not everything is always what it appears. Often it is not, even though we might be convinced it is. Too many times we look at situations from a limited number of perspectives, from only a few of the many available angles, and with many biases and errors. We neglect or dismiss certain viewpoints, we create realities that only we can see, and that’s what we often base our interpretations, conclusions and judgments on. Are you aware of the many biases and errors in perception and judgment that cloud your responses and decisions? Are you aware of the limitations of your personal perspectives?

I’ll mention a few of the many possible errors and biases that we are all subject to. Some examples of perception biases are seeing things according to the conventions of your profession while ignoring other views or overlooking and ignoring unexpected data as well as overestimating what you know and seeing patterns where they don’t exist. Biases referred to as comfort zone biases occur when people ignore information that is inconsistent with their current beliefs or when they keep doing the same things even if they don’t longer work well. Examples of motivational biases are the tendency of people to remember their decisions as being better than they were and the tendency to unconsciously distort judgments to look good and get ahead.

I could continue this list with all the possible errors and biases involved in groupthink and in other processes, but I think it’s clear: Understanding your likely perception and judgment biases and errors and seeing the bigger picture can totally change the narrative, it can change interpretations, and it can change responses and outcomes. The following half-minute video commercial of The Guardian provides a good illustration.

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