Humans are so very good at being led by our biases.
In fact, we’re so swamped by our biases that it’s practically impossible to catch ’em all.
Rooted in the human brain’s automatic processing systems, unconscious decision-making has played an important role in the survival and evolution of species.
Your fundamental fight-or-flight response is actually an example of unconscious bias.
It’s based on what feels safe to you in a certain situation.
Your experiences, your preferences, your education, your upbringing all contribute to the model of the world that you have.
And it makes you who you are.
And having a bias isn’t automatically a bad thing. It becomes problematic when you make poor decisions based on that model or treating groups of something as less favourable than others.
But the more we know of biases, the more aware of our own biases we can be.
The more aware we are of our own biases, the less they’ll affect us.
Outcome bias is the tendency to evaluate a decision on the basis of its outcome rather than the factors that led to it.
For example, a doctor that decides to give a critically ill patient a new, experimental medication that has a 50% chance of curing the condition.
If the patient survives, the doctor will be praised for his decision.
But if the patient dies, the doctor will be criticised harshly for his “poor judgement” or “mistake”.
Maybe you already guessed it, but outcome bias is more prevalent in negative outcomes.
When a decision – even the best one that could have been made at the time with the information available – leads to a poor outcome, people assign more blame and harsher punishment to the decision-maker than if it had ended in a positive outcome.
This is even true when the odds of success are just pure chance.
So, it’s easy to say, “shoulda known” after the fact.
Because that’s when we do know. And we’ve already forgotten that we didn’t know when we made the decision.
You’re made up of a whole lot of hidden knowledge, y’know.
And the only way to get at that knowledge is to dig it out of your unconscious.
Isn’t it handy that it’s exactly what we’re here for?
Today we’ll take a creative writing approach to looking at things from a different perspective.
Don’t take it too seriously, either, we don’t want it to start feeling like work!
Self-exploration is the path to greater self-awareness, and it’s greater self-awareness that will give you that bird’s-eye view that’s so much more serene than being caught up in the storm.
What everyone knows vs. What I know
Think of a place, person, or even that you’re intimately familiar with (if possible, something that you have intimate knowledge of that no one else has).
Do a free-write and start with the sentence, “What everyone knows about X is…” where X is the person, place or event.
After you’ve concluded that, write a second piece and begin with, “But what I know about X is…” where you reveal your special, private knowledge or unique perspective.