Over the past few years I’ve read a number of books and research studies related to social psychology, neuroscience and behavioral economics. One of the most interesting books during this time was Daniel Kahneman’s book: Thinking, Fast and Slow. The “book is about biases of intuition.” Kahneman, along with a growing number of scientific studies, demonstrates just how error prone our intuitive judgments can be.
As we navigate our lives, we normally allow ourselves to be guided by impressions and feelings, and the confidence we have in our intuitive beliefs and preferences is usually justified. But not always. We are often confident even when we are wrong, and an objective observer is more likely to detect our errors than we are.
As our guide and objective observer, Kahneman takes us on a tour of the predictable biases (or systematic errors) in human cognition that all of us have. The book is a fascinating read. I highly recommend it. Of course, most of us are aware that people have biases, but Kahneman shows us just how pervasive they are. You’ll be surprised how many times in the book Kahneman sets you up and demonstrates your own biases. Probably the most obvious bias on display during this political season is confirmation bias. For the most part, Democrats and Republicans immediately read information as confirming what they already believe.
Personally, the biggest benefit I took from Kahnman’s book is simple awareness. I can’t say because I’m aware of how pervasive these cognitive biases are that I’m able to avoid them. I’m human, all too human. But being consciously aware and, I believe, honestly trying to avoid them is the best anyone can do.