How Can Cognitive Bias Affect Your Life?

How Can Cognitive Bias Affect Your Life?

Almost all articles in this edition of Holistic Living Magazine follow a similar path; a definition of a belief, some examples of them, a discussion of how they can be positive and negative and finally some advice on how to conquer the bad and substitute them with the good. And just to be different, I’m not going to follow that pattern. I’m going talk about something that supports and gives succour to beliefs, mainly the bad ones, and that is the concept of cognitive bias.

Any belief will have a starting point, a time, an action, an environment and so on. But if it doesn’t get validation, then much like seeds on stony ground it won’t survive. Every belief survives because it in some way enhances the life of the individual believing in it. And this is where cognitive biases come in; there are hundreds of different biases all having a subtle, or not so subtle, effect on how we think. A good example is confirmation bias; this particular bias means that if you have a particular belief, say climate change isn’t real, then you will go out and search for like minded people or situations. We have all experienced this bias; the article, “Are You Your Beliefs”? by Gwenda Smith, in this magazine describes how one individual was on anti-depressants because his mother was and that meant he felt he needed them, his mother, and her mother’s behaviour confirmed what he believed.

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Another bias that impacts many people is a negativity bias; this bias means that you give more weight to bad things that have happened in your life than the positive ones. Just think about that for a moment. I bet right now it is easier for you to recall the last five bad things that were said or happened to you than the last five good things and it is this type of bias that feeds the fuel of many negative self-worth beliefs.

Now while the list of biases does go on[1], with some being relatively harmless, the IKEA effect for example, others such as the Gamblers Fallacy or the Worse-than-average effect can be life changing. Fundamentally if you aren’t aware of such things as cognitive biases, then trying to change a belief without addressing a potential supporting bias would be like trying to fix a leak in a water pipe without knowing where the leak was.

So please read the rest of this wonderful edition, read about all of the expert’s different approaches to beliefs, and at the same time take a moment to think about any beliefs you have. Think about whether they are positive or detrimental to your life, and if the latter, think about what was the trigger for it to exist and what keeps that belief alive? Once you know such facts, then you can go about replacing such negativity with beliefs that are better for you. Finally, stay wary of cognitive biases that can confound and confront you, they can and do creep back into your life!!

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Cassandra JonesCassandra Jones – Editor At Large For Holistic Living Magazine

 

 

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

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