Our Inescapable Illusions

July 23, 2013 Affective LeadershipEmotional IntelligencePeer Powered Performance

inescapable illusions

“A bat and ball cost $1.10. The bat costs $1 more than the ball.
How much does the ball cost?”

The vast majority of people respond quickly and confidently, insisting the ball costs 10 cents. This answer is both incredibly obvious and utterly wrong. (The correct answer is five cents for the ball and $1.05 for the bat.) What’s most impressive is that education doesn’t really help; more than 50% of students at Harvard, Princeton and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology routinely give the incorrect answer.   (Source: http://tw.gs/QYsddZ)

This is just one of many incredibly disconcerting results of decades of research by Nobel Laureate and professor of psychology at Princeton, Daniel Kahneman.  The difficult part to reconcile is our absolute  inability to curb our propensity for misinterpretation.  We are hard-wired to identify patterns where none exist.

Wikipedia defines Bias as: an inclination of temperaments or outlook to present or hold a partial perspective at the expense of (possibly equally valid) alternatives in reference to objects, people, or groups. Anything biased generally is one-sided and therefore lacks a neutral point of view. Bias can come in many forms and is often considered to be synonymous with prejudice or bigotry.

Our ability to distort perception is so profound that Wikipedia lists nearly 100 biases.   These biases create blind spots or scotomas that help provide a safe hiding place not just for our intellectual oversights but for the psychological components of addictions to drugs, alcohol, smoking and dependencies like food and the NEED for control.  Each is held in place by a web of unexamined assumptions reinforced by enabling connections.  Changing these misperceptions within a community requires a willingness to slow down and use what Kahneman calls System 2 Thinking.

The hardest habit to quit is doing the wrong thing well.

Take a few minutes to peruse the slideshow below and try and select those biases you DON’T have.


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