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Infographic: 20 Cognitive Biases That Screw Up Your Decisions

Infographic: 20 Cognitive Biases That Screw Up Your Decisions

So you think that you’re a rational person and that those psychological tricks that work on the masses won’t work on you? Well, the following infographic might shake your confidence.

Interestingly enough, the brain often likes playing tricks on us, whether we want it to or not. Before we get into the infographic, let me introduce you to some of the main cognitive biases upon which these tricks are based.

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Anchoring

When making decisions, we tend to rely too heavily on the first piece of information we receive. This fact is often exploited in marketing, particularly online. How many times have you come across something along these lines: “Buy this new product, which is normally priced at $299 for a limited-time price of $49!” That’s a phenomenal bargain, right? Once your brain is anchored to a price of $299, the $49 you might have balked at before sounds much cheaper. How often are you being anchored in your daily life?

Confirmation Bias

We tend to look for information that confirms what we believe. This is referred to as confirmation bias, and is precisely what gets us mired in our current beliefs. Our minds seek information that supports what we think, so it is hard to adopt new thoughts and beliefs. Conspiracy theorists are a perfect example of this. They often twist facts and disregard that which challenges their theories. They seek evidence that confirms their assumptions and, sure enough, they manage to find plenty of it. That said, not every conspiracy theory is automatically wrong.

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Placebo Effect

If you believe in something strongly enough, it may enter reality to a certain extent. The most famous example of the placebo effect is arguably the case of Mr. Wright, a terminally ill patient who had been given less than 2 weeks to live. The release of a new drug called Krebiozen gave him hope, and his health improved rapidly upon taking the drug.

Unfortunately, reports that the medicine might be ineffective arose, and Mr. Wright’s health suddenly deteriorated when he learned of this. His doctor noticed the pattern and decided to administer placebo injections consisting only of water while telling Mr. Wright that the injections contained a new and improved version of the medicine.

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Mr. Wright’s health improved dramatically while taking the placebo. Sadly, the American Medical Association ultimately announced that Krebiozen was completely ineffective in the treatment of cancer. Mr. Wright resultantly lost hope and died within a few days of this revelation.

Clustering Illusion

This is the tendency to see patterns in random events that are not truly related. Our mind is designed to spot patterns everywhere, even when there is no scientific evidence for them. Take sports, for instance. Sports fans often think that they can predict the success or failure of their favorite player. If they see LeBron scoring multiple free throws in a row, they start to think that he will make the next shot as well. In reality, research has shown that there is little to no link between any of the free throws, even when they occur successively.

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Survivorship Bias

Survivorship Bias occurs when we fail to adequately consider failure rates when making decisions. There are scores of entrepreneurs who failed, painters who died in poverty, and inventors who were never successful, but how often do we hear their stories? Rarely, because nobody likes to hear stories that end in failure. Such stories can be sad and depressing, but they are part of reality. Have you ever experienced Survivorship Bias in your life?

Now that you’re familiar with the most common cognitive biases, check the infographic below for more information. Are there any that have tricked you recently?

bi_graphics_20-cognitive-biases-that-screw-up-your-decisions

    Featured photo credit: 20 cognitive biases that screw up your decisions via businessinsider.com

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    Last Updated on October 22, 2020

    11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude Every Day

    11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude Every Day

    Maintaining a positive attitude is critical when you want to achieve anything or simply improve the quality of your life. Most success literature will talk about the power of positive thinking and how important it is, but it’s often easier said than done.

    In this article, you’ll find 11 tips for maintaining your positive attitude no matter what’s going on in your life.

    1. You Determine Your Reality

    It’s important to realize that you determine your reality by the way you react to the outside world. When something happens, you get to choose whether it’s a positive or negative situation and react accordingly.

    For example, if you lose your job, your first reaction will likely be one of anger, frustration, and hopelessness. However, what if you were able to turn those emotions around and look at that experience as an opportunity.

    You now have the chance to find a job where you will be able to learn new skills and perhaps even be happier. And in the meantime, you have some free time to analyze what direction you want the next stage of your life to go in.

    2. Start Your Day Strong

    Most people have to drag themselves out of bed, and this sets a negative state of mind for their entire day. Positive people create a long-term morning ritual that reinforces how great life is and how happy they are to be alive.

    I used to wake up and immediately turn on Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life to get me into a positive mood. Now I start my day by reading or listening to something positive. Whether you have 1 minute, 15 minutes, or an hour to dedicate to your ritual, you can start the day in a way that helps you feel relaxed and ready for the day ahead.

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    Cultivate a positive attitude with a great morning routine.

      3. Exercise Is the Natural Feel-Good Drug

      Exercise is a great way to maintain a good attitude because of all the positive chemicals it releases into the bloodstream.

      One study found that between groups who participated in high-intensity interval training, moderate continuous training, and no exercise, those in the second group experienced the greatest drop in depressive symptoms and stress[1]. Therefore, if you’re looking to exercise to help you feel good, get your heart rate up, but don’t push too hard or you may increase overall stress.

      Also, remember that exercise can include many activities. If you don’t like running, try dancing or kickboxing instead. Put on some upbeat music to kick up the positive vibes even more.

      4. Use Books, Audio and Videos to Overload Your Brain with Positivity

      There are millions of amazing books, podcasts, and videos for you to absorb from people who are inspiring and living the life of their dreams. Tap into their positive emotions and their experience by learning how they think and what they do to create the lives they want.

      You can do this in the morning or while exercising, eating, commuting, cooking, cleaning… there’s always time for positivity.

      5. Your Language Shapes Your Thoughts

      Little changes in your language can change the way you think and how you act. Whenever someone greets you and asks how you’re doing, do you answer with “fine” or “not too bad”? Think about just what this language is communicating to others… and yourself.

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      I always answer with “great,” “fantastic,” or “amazing.” Not only does this remind me that life really is great, but it usually helps the other person shift toward a positive attitude as well.

      Also, take some time to look at the way your inner voice talks to you. Is that language positive or negative? If it’s overly critical or negative, it may be time to tap into some mindfulness meditation in order to shift your inner critic to an inner cheerleader.

      6. Hang out With Positive People

      It is often said that you will have a similar level of health, income and lifestyle as the five people you spend the most time with.

      So if you want to be fit, then start to hang out with fit people. Want to start a business? Then hang out with business owners. And if you want to be positive, make sure you’re hanging out with positive people[2].

      7. Show Your Appreciation for Others

      By appreciating others for a job well done, their outfit, or their smile, you start to cause a positive chain reaction. Stop complaining and focus on all the good others are doing around you.

      Don’t you feel great when you receive a compliment from someone else? Well, if you want to receive more, then start giving them out and watch what happens to the people around you.

      One particular study found that people who sent letters of gratitude experienced significant increases in happiness scores[3]. If you don’t feel like writing a letter, send a nice text to someone who recently helped you out, or send an email thanking your coworker for always helping pick up the slack around the office. Whatever it is, take some time to show gratitude.

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      8. Garbage In, Garbage Out

      This is an expression from programming where the result is only as good as the input. If you’re feeding yourself with negativity all day long, then it’s pretty obvious you’re going to be feeling negative as well.

      A great deal of the media thrives on negativity. Put yourself on a negativity diet (including people) and watch how much easier it is to maintain your positive attitude.

      9. Stop Negative Thoughts in Their Tracks

      It’s hard to be a constantly positive person, and negative thoughts are going to bubble up from time to time. These will be more frequent in the beginning but can decrease as you practice the tips we’re talking about. When you start to notice negative thoughts, you can use a pattern interrupt to stop them in their tracks.

      The idea is to interrupt your current thought pattern and shift to a more positive outlook. One way to do this is to set a visual or auditory cue. It can be something as simple as a bracelet you wear each day or the sound of a car passing outside your window. Whenever you see or hear the cue, use it to shift your thoughts to something positive.

      You can learn more on how to shift your mindset and negative attitudes in the following video:

      10. Live With Gratitude

      So many positive things happen during our day, and we often ignore them while letting one negative comment or event ruin our mood. It can help to keep a gratitude journal where you jot down things you are grateful for each night or during the day.

      If you’re reading this, then you probably live with a roof over your head and food in your belly, which is a daily struggle for a large portion of the world. However, we often take these things for granted and don’t realize just how great we have it.

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      Try refocusing your thoughts towards everything you do have instead of what you don’t. One study found that reflecting on past experiences with a sense of gratitude can lead to increases in both hope and happiness[4]. That’s a great reason to give it a go today.

      You can find more ways to practice gratitude in this article.

      11. Recharge Your Batteries

      One key to adopting a positive attitude is taking the time to recharge your batteries. This might mean taking a few hours on the weekend to read a positive book or taking a few weeks for a holiday.

      If you’re not in the position to travel, you can take a staycation, or have a “home holiday” where you simply switch off from the outside world and spend time doing things you love.

      Final Thoughts

      You now have 11 tips for maintaining your positive attitude, but they are no use to you unless you implement them into your life.

      Start small, and pick the easiest tip or the one that you really love and introduce it into your life starting right now. Then, over time, start implementing the other tips and watch your positivity soar.

      More Tips About Staying Positive

      Featured photo credit: Pepe Cast Zam via unsplash.com

      Reference

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