Chapter 2. The Bias Effect

“If one were to attempt to identify a single problematic aspect of human reasoning that deserves attention above all others, the confirmation bias would have to be among the candidates for consideration.”[1] —Raymond S. Nickerson, Tufts University Research Professor of Psychology

From birth on, we gradually and subtly develop different unconscious biases—tendencies to favor or reject certain things, groups, or people over others—and these biases affect our behavior. They’re inevitable, as people have the innate tendency to classify and categorize people, experiences, and information. These biases are kind of like shortcuts our brains develop to make fast decisions about what we’re reading, seeing, or experiencing.

Yet the buildup of certain cognitive biases can eventually cause great harm to your decision-making skills, and ultimately your integrity, as they often conflict with your conscious decisions about the kind of person you want to be. Many good people suffer from various types of cognitive biases that distort their thinking and bring them to inaccurate conclusions.

Biases gradually grow like a buildup of plaque on our thinking. They inhibit our ability to gather and assess information objectively. Yet, you can develop different skills and use various tools to minimize their effects. These cognitive biases must be intentionally fought in order to make rational, balanced decisions and assessments. This chapter will give you some ideas to fight that bias buildup and the limits it puts on your decision-making skills.

Roy-ism: Confirmation bias is integrity’s kryptonite.

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