20 cognitive mistakes that distort reality

20 cognitive mistakes that distort reality, we read and make corrections - to know the ways of escape.

☁ Illusion of Control

People tend to overestimate their influence on events in which they are interested in a successful outcome. This phenomenon was discovered in 1975 by the American psychologist Ellen Langer during experiments with lottery tickets. The participants in the experiment were divided into two groups: people from the first group could choose their own lottery tickets, and the members of the second group were given out without the right to choose. 2 days before the drawing, the experimenters suggested that the participants of both groups exchange their ticket for another, in a new lottery with greater chances of winning.

Obviously, the offer was profitable, but those participants who chose the tickets themselves were in no hurry to part with them - as if their personal choice of ticket could affect the likelihood of winning.

☁ Zero risk preference

Imagine that you have a choice: reduce a small risk to zero, or significantly reduce a large risk. For example, to bring plane crashes to zero or drastically reduce the number of car accidents. Which would you choose?

Based on the statistics, it would be more correct to choose the second option: the death rate from plane crashes is much lower than the death rate from car accidents - so in the end, such a choice will save many more lives. And yet research shows that most people choose the first option: zero risk in any area looks more reassuring, even if your chances of becoming a victim of a plane crash are negligible.

☁ Selective perception

Let's say you don't trust GMOs. And if this topic excites you, you probably read news and articles about genetically modified organisms. As you read, you become more and more convinced that you are right: the danger is present. But here's the catch - chances are that you pay much more attention to news that underpins your point of view than arguments in favor of GMOs. This means that you lose objectivity. This tendency for people to pay attention to information that is consistent with their expectations and ignore everything else is called selective perception.

☁ Player error

A gambler's mistake most often lies in wait for gamblers. Many of them try to find a relationship between the probability of the desired outcome of some random event and its previous outcomes. The simplest example is with a coin toss: if it hits heads nine times in a row, most people will bet on heads next time, as if hitting heads too often increases the likelihood of it hitting. But this is not so: in fact, the odds remain the same - 50/50.

☁ Survivor Bias

This logical trap was discovered during the Second World War, but you can fall into it in peacetime. During the war, the US military leadership decided to reduce the number of losses among bombers and issued an order: based on the results of the battles, find out on which parts of the aircraft it is necessary to strengthen the protection. They began to study the returning aircraft and found many holes in the wings and tail - and it was decided to strengthen these parts. At first glance, everything looked quite logical - but, fortunately, the observational statistician Abraham Wald came to the aid of the military. And he explained to them that they almost made a fatal mistake. Indeed, the holes in the returning planes carried information about their strengths, and not about their weaknesses. Airplanes "wounded" in other places - for example, the engine or the fuel tank - simply did not return from the battlefield.

The wounded-survivors principle is worth thinking about even now, when we are about to draw hasty conclusions based on asymmetric information on any two groups.

☁ Illusion of transparency

You are in a situation where it is imperative to lie. But how difficult it is to do it - it seems to you that they see through you and any involuntary movement will betray your insincerity. Sound familiar? This is the "illusion of transparency" - the tendency of people to overestimate the ability of others to understand their true motives and experiences.

In 1998, psychologists conducted an experiment with students at Cornell University. Individual students read the questions from the cards and answered them, telling the truth or lies, depending on the directions on the card. The audience was asked to determine when the speakers were lying, and the speakers were asked to rate their chances of fooling others. Half of the liars assumed that they would be figured out - in fact, the listeners exposed only a quarter. This means that the liars greatly overestimated the discernment of their listeners.

Why is this happening? Most likely, because we ourselves know too much about ourselves. And so we think that our knowledge is obvious to an external observer. However, the illusion of transparency also works in the opposite direction: we overestimate our ability to recognize other people's lies.

☁ Barnum Effect

A common situation: a person reads and stumbles upon a horoscope. He, of course, does not believe in all these pseudosciences, but decides to read the horoscope purely for the sake of entertainment. But a strange thing: the characteristic of the sign suitable for him coincides very precisely with his own ideas about himself.

Such things happen even to skeptics: psychologists have called this phenomenon "the Barnum effect" - in honor of the American showman and dexterous manipulator of the 19th century, Finneas Barnum. Most people tend to perceive rather general and vague descriptions as accurate descriptions of their personality. And, of course, the more positive the description, the more coincidences. This effect is used by astrologers and fortune-tellers.

☁ Self-fulfilling prophecy effect

Another cognitive distortion that works into the hands of diviners. Its essence is that a non-reflective prophecy that sounds convincing can cause people to involuntarily take steps to fulfill it. And in the end, the prophecy, which objectively had not so many chances to come true, suddenly turns out to be true.

The classic version of such a prophecy is described in the story of Alexander Green "Scarlet Sails". The inventor Egle predicts little Assol that when she grows up, the prince will come for her on a ship with scarlet sails. Assol fervently believes in prediction and the whole city becomes aware of it. And then Captain Gray, who fell in love with the girl, learns about the prophecy and decides to make Assol's dream come true. And in the end, Egle turns out to be right, although the happy ending in history was provided by far from fabulous mechanisms.

☁ Fundamental attribution error

We tend to explain the behavior of other people by their personal qualities, and our actions - by objective circumstances, especially when it comes to some mistakes. For example, another person is probably late because of his lack of punctuality, and his lateness can always be explained by a ruined alarm clock or traffic jams. Moreover, we are talking not only about official excuses, but also about an internal vision of the situation - and this approach to business prevents us from taking responsibility for our actions. So those looking to improve themselves should be aware of the fundamental attribution error.

☁ Moral Trust Effect

The journalist known for his liberal views fell for homophobia, the priest took a bribe, and the senator, who stands up for family values, was photographed in a strip bar. In these seemingly out of the ordinary cases, there is a sad pattern - it is called the "effect of moral trust." If a person develops a solid reputation as a “righteous man, ” at some point he may have the illusion that he is truly sinless. And if he's so good, then a little weakness won't change anything.

☁ Cascade of available information

A cognitive distortion that all ideologues of the world owe their success to: collective belief in an idea becomes much more convincing when the idea is repeated in public discourse. We often encounter him in conversations with grandmothers: many pensioners are confident in the truthfulness of everything that is often talked about on television. But the new generation is likely to feel this effect through Facebook.

☁ Rhyme effect

We subconsciously tend to consider almost any judgment more reliable if it is written in rhyme - this method of persuasion was used by manipulative psychologists in the series "Mind Games". This effect is confirmed by numerous studies, where a group of people were asked to determine the degree of their trust in various rhymed and non-rhymed phrases. Sentences containing rhymes appear to be noticeably more attractive to the subjects and inspire more confidence in them. For example, the phrase "That which sobriety hides, alcohol reveals" was recognized as more convincing than the thesis "Sobriety hides what alcohol reveals." The effect can be provoked by the fact that rhyme facilitates cognitive processes and firmly binds seemingly disparate parts of a sentence in our subconscious.

☁ Anchor effect

Many people use the first information that catches their eye and draw further conclusions about something based on it alone. As soon as a person “sets an anchor”, he makes subsequent judgments, without trying to look a little further than the conventional “parking place”. If the subjects are asked to estimate in five seconds the approximate result of a mathematical example 1 × 2 × 3 × 4 × 5 × 6 × 7 × 8 =?, Then for lack of time most people will multiply the first few numbers and, seeing that the figure is not too large, will announce a very modest final result (the average answer is about 512). But if the sequence of multipliers is reversed: 8 × 7 × 6 × 5 × 4 × 3 × 2 × 1 - then the subject, having performed the first few actions and seeing that the result of the multiplication turns out to be large, will significantly increase his predictions regarding the final answer (the average answer - about 2250). The correct multiplication result is 40 320.

☁ Heuristic availability

If you ask a college student, "Does your institution have more Colorado or California students?" - then his answer will most likely be based on personal examples that he can recall in a short period of time. The easier we can remember something, the more we trust this knowledge. If you ask a person the question: "We took a random word: do you think it will most likely start with the letter K, or will this letter be the third in it?" - then most people will remember words starting with K much faster, and not words where K is the third letter, and will give their answer based on this. In fact, the standard text contains twice as many words, with K in third place.

☁ Stockholm Buyer Syndrome

Often, consciousness retroactively ascribes positive qualities to the object that a person has already chosen and acquired and which he cannot refuse. For example, if you bought a computer from Apple, then you probably will not notice or significantly underestimate the shortcomings of this company's computers, and, conversely, noticeably increase criticism of computers based on Windows. The buyer will in every possible way justify the purchased expensive product, not noticing its shortcomings, even if they are significant and his choice does not meet his expectations. The same syndrome explains purchases according to the principle "I will be much better at this when I lose weight."

☁ Decoy effect

If the consumer is faced with a choice - to buy a cheaper and less capacious player A or a more expensive and more capacious player B, then someone will prefer a device with a higher capacity, and someone - a lower price. But if player C comes into play, which costs more than A and B, and has more memory than A, but less than B, then by the very fact of its existence it increases the chances of buying player B and makes it a favorite among these three ... This is due to the fact that the buyer sees that a model with a large storage capacity may cost less, and this subconsciously influences his choice. The sole purpose of such baits is to persuade a person in favor of one of two options. And this scheme works not only in marketing.

☁ IKEA effect

Giving unreasonably great importance to things in the creation of which the consumer himself takes part. Many items produced by the IKEA furniture store require the buyer to assemble at home, and this is no coincidence: the user appreciates the product much more when he considers it to be the result of his labor. Experiments have shown that a person is willing to pay more for a thing that he has assembled himself than for one that does not need assembly, and considers it to be of higher quality and more reliable.

☁ "Hot - Cold"

A biased assessment of reality arising from the impossibility of imagining oneself in another state and predicting one's behavior in a situation associated with this state. For example, when a person is hot, it is difficult for him to understand the beauty of coolness, and when he is madly in love, he cannot remember how he lived without an object of passion. This shortsightedness leads to reckless actions: until we are faced with a really serious temptation, we feel that it is not so difficult to resist.

☁ Functional fixing

The mental block is against a new approach to the use of the object: paper clips - to fasten sheets, a hammer - in order to hammer in a nail. This distortion does not allow our consciousness to move away from the original purpose of objects and see their possible additional functions. The classic experiment that confirms this phenomenon is the candle experiment. Participants are given a candle, a box of office buttons and matches, and are asked to attach the candle to the wall so that it does not drip onto the table. Few participants can "rethink" the button box to make a candle holder out of it, rather than trying to attach the candle to the wall using the buttons themselves.

☁ Faith in a Fair World

There is a dark side to a completely positive inclination to hope for the best: since it is very difficult for people to come to terms with the fact that the world is unfair and full of accidents, they try to find logic in the most absurd and terrible events. Which, in turn, leads to bias. Therefore, victims of crime are often accused of facilitating such behavior on the part of the perpetrator by their actions (a classic example is the “blame” approach to rape victims).