Common Decision Mistakes
And Why They Occur

Human biases

In these decision making articles we will look at decision mistakes that occur as a result of cognitive biases. In other words, distortions in the way we take in information about the world, and in how we process that information.


Herd instinct

The bandwagon effect had been used to describe how people will follow what others in the group are doing. To some extent, it's driven by the desire to be socially accepted and the fear of rejection. However, it also means that many people don't actually make their own decisions.


Rose colored memories

Choice supportive bias is the tendency to recall past decisions as being better than they actually were. This effect in memory means that when a past decision is considered, positive features are associated with the chosen option and negative features associated with the discarded options.

Rosy retrospection occurs when people rate past events more positively than they rated them when the event actually occurred. These are factors that allow people to repeat decision mistakes time and again.


Like attracts like...

Another group of mistakes occur because of the confirmation bias, mere exposure effect, deformation professionelle and disconfirmation bias.

Confirmation bias, as the name suggests, is seeking and sorting for information that confirms already held conceptions. More importance is given to information that confirms what's already known. It may occur because it seems to be more difficult for humans to process negatives than to process positives.

The mere exposure effect is a tendency for people to like things more simply because they are familiar with them.

Deformation professionelle is the tendency to consider something within the framework of one's profession, ignoring a broader perspective. This bias is where people tend to scrutinize very critically information which goes against their beliefs. This obviously ties in closely with the confirmation bias.

These ideas are interesting in terms of persuasion and negotiation. It seems that repeated input of contradictory information is required to change somebody's mind.

An alternative, of course, is to start by giving them information that they accept and then creating a trail of logical chains to transition them to the new viewpoint.

The kind of mistakes that occur as a result of these biases are related to repeating the same decisions, using very narrow frames, and a refusal to consider 'out of the ordinary' alternatives.


Controlling the chaos

The illusion of control and neglect of probability lead to their own group of decision mistakes.

Neglect of probability is the tendency to disregard probability when making decisions. For example, plane crashes are very infrequent, but many people have a fear of flying.

And illusion of control is of course the belief that people can control or influence outcomes when they obviously cannot. These decision mistakes mean that casino and lottery owners make a comfortable living!

Read decision making mistakes to learn more...

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