October 22, 2021

Our opinion and knowledge are often worthless. Why are people so often wrong?

Self-confidence is inherent in everyone. Even if it seems to you that you are ready to listen to the opinions of others, this is a lie. We judge everyone for ourselves, justify our personal choices, and because of this we often lose.

Every minute, modern man runs the risk of falling prey to delusion. We buy unnecessary gadgets, avoid working with people from small towns, watch boring films and plays because they are “promising”.

We are vulnerable to false beliefs and statements by our own – or imposed by others – stereotypes, the lack of the habit of independently checking information, and also the peculiarities of thinking – cognitive distortions.

False consent effect

Has it ever happened: you offered a brilliant, in your opinion, idea, and the others not only did not evaluate it, but simply ignored it? Or the question is: pizza or sushi? What do you think the majority chooses? Each of us is likely to judge by ourselves. If you are a fan of Italian cuisine, then you will find that most people make a choice in favor of this world cuisine.

False agreement effect is a cognitive distortion, expressed in the fact that we project our way of thinking onto others, that is, we believe that other people think and feel in the same way as ourselves. We exaggerate the extent to which our own opinion is generally accepted.

Hence the other extreme follows: we believe that if people do not agree with us, then, most likely, they are some kind of strange, flawed, narrow-minded and even abnormal and somewhat inferior. This is the label we put on those who have different opinions and points of view. After all, if we decided that our ideas are brilliant, and someone does not agree with this, then he is an idiot, specially opposed to us.

Why is there a false agreement effect? Probably, the point is that our own opinion is the most important for us. We’re too overconfident. Or maybe the reason is that we have a desire to identify ourselves with society: “I am the same as everyone else”, “Since I think so, then everyone thinks so.” Perhaps the fact is that we surround ourselves with people whose positions and opinions are close to ours, and then, based on this (obviously erroneous) sample, we draw conclusions about general social positions.

When we are asked how others think, we have no answer, so we follow the path of least resistance: we pass our own opinion as the general one. This astonishing arrogance can lead to dire results. Marketers, salespeople, economists, politicians, executives, and educators are wrong.

Distortion in the perception of one’s own choice

Let’s imagine a situation: a person in a store chooses between two gadgets: A and B. Having been suffering for a long time, he ultimately decides on the choice and buys option A. After some time, the gadget breaks down. What do you think, will the person justify his choice or honestly admit “Yes, I made a mistake, I should have chosen option B”? Our life experience suggests that the most likely choice is justification.

A bias in the perception of our own choices is a cognitive bias in which we retroactively attribute positive qualities to the object we have chosen or the action we have taken. In other words, after the choice is made, we are ready to defend it by any means, regardless of its weaknesses. After all, it helps to reduce regret if the choice is wrong.

It may interest you :  For the first time, the surface of a neutron star has been mapped: it is not as simple as we thought

Cognitive bias is especially dangerous because our bias in assessing the correctness of current choices can influence future decisions. The wrong choice and its justifications can be remembered and later become the reason for the next incorrect decision.

Illusion of control

Have you ever been to a casino? Even if you weren’t, turn on your imagination. You are sitting at the gaming table. You have two options: roll the dice yourself, or entrust it to someone else. What will you choose? Most people choose the first option: it seems to them that this way they more influence the result. Or maybe you are ready to give the opportunity to throw the dice to another person if he has a “lighter” and “happier” hand? If you are thinking this way, know that you are dealing with the next cognitive bias called the illusion of control.

The illusion of control is the tendency of people to believe that they are able to control events and influence their results, although objectively these events do not depend on them or depend to a minimum extent. Sometimes people develop a belief in control even over purely random events. Many experts consider this cognitive illusion to be “positive”, because for some it has a positive effect, as it makes a person more confident. But there is also a downside: very often, as a result, we make wrong, harmful decisions, there is a risk of making tragic mistakes, and besides, we are simply wasting our energy senselessly.

It is worth remembering that this cognitive bias also has the opposite effect: sometimes we tend to underestimate the level of our control over the outcome of an event. Surely each of you can remember a lot of cases of missed opportunities, because we were convinced: we have no power over the situation. That is why it is always important to soberly assess in which cases everything really depends on us, you can take everything into our own hands and act with complete confidence, going only forward, and in which cases we have no opportunity to influence anything.