You’re Lying To Yourself (and I’ll prove it)

From Vsauce2.

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Your mind is efficient and amazing. It also conspires to ruin your life almost every time you encounter new information. You’re lying to yourself, and you can’t help it.

All the cognitive habits, capabilities, and shortcuts your brain brings to the table also come with serious liabilities… like leading you down the wrong path on simple math depending on which numbers you see first.

Anchoring bias is the perfect example. Work done by cognitive science researchers like Amos Tversky, Daniel Kahneman, Dan Ariely, and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini show us that you get a little bit of information and then your brain goes to work. Unfortunately, it almost always locks you into a mode of thought that’s just… not quite right. You’ll get the wrong estimates and numbers. You’ll be barricaded into thinking a certain way when you really need to consider the scenario more broadly.

And you’ll probably be manipulated. Prices can be structured to take advantage of your biased first impressions. You can be influenced to value things incorrectly. You’re a victim of your own mind and of those who recognize the ways to twist it.

But there’s a way out. Maybe.

*** SOURCES ***

Tversky, Amos, and Daniel Kahneman. “Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases.” Science, vol. 185, no. 4157, 1974, pp. 1124–1131. JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/1738360?seq=1

Sherif, Muzafer; Taub, Daniel; Hovland, Carl I. (1958). "Assimilation and contrast effects of anchoring stimuli on judgments". Journal of Experimental Psychology.

“The Anchoring Effect and How it Can Impact Your Negotiation,” Harvard Business School Program on Negotiation: https://www.pon.harvard.edu/daily/negotiation-skills-daily/the-drawbacks-of-goals/

“Precision of the Anchor Influences the Amount of Adjustment,” Chris Janiszewski, Dan Uy: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02057.x

Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, “Inevitable Illusions”: https://www.amazon.com/Inevitable-Illusions-Mistakes-Reason-Minds/dp/047115962X

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Hosted and Produced by Kevin Lieber
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Research and Writing by Matthew Tabor
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Editing by John Swan
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