“Between Stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

“Between Stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor E. Frankl (Austrian Psychologist & Concentration Camp Survivor, 1905-1997)

Cognitive Biases are common habits of thinking that, while effective in many situations, can cause us to make significant mistakes if we follow them reflexively. A key part of becoming a rational person is learning to identify when we rely on a Cognitive Bias and to evaluate whether it is reliable to the current situation. Ultimately, we cannot eliminate Cognitive Biases from our thinking, we can only recognize them and minimize their negative consequences. Thus, becoming a rational person is a lifelong process.

Watch the video “Thinking, Fast &Slow” by Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Prize Winning Economist & Psychologist who developed the concept, and scan this List of Cognitive Biases. Identify one of the biases that you know you are guilty of committing, copy and paste its label and definition into your post, and describe the most memorable time you fell prey to this Cognitive Bias. What were the negative consequences and know that you recognize the bias how could you avoid committing it in the future?

I’m guilty of committing that I’ve fallen to the actor–observer bias. Actor–observer bias explains the errors that one makes when forming attributions about the behavior of others. When people judge their own behavior, and they are the actor, they are more likely to attribute their actions to the particular situation than to a generalization about their personality. Yet when an observer is explaining the behavior of another person (the actor), they are more likely to attribute this behavior to the actors’ overall disposition rather than to situational factors.

Last summer when I went back home to spend my break, I stayed living with my mom alone while my dad was in jail for almost one year. During the time I stayed with her, both of us were having a difficult time. My mom has always been buying stocks on her own, and everyone in my family including relatives known that, but no one knows how much money she spent on investing in the stock market. She didn’t tell us anything about it until one day she cried to tell us that she lost most of her money by that. Everyone was shocked and started comforting her. However, my mom started saying that she lost so much money was because none of us has warned her. In fact, she was never willing to share her ideas with us. When my relatives talked about this to me, they said that my mom is too stubborn, not trusting, and she has always been that way. They understood my mom was having a hard time, she was in a difficult situation, she is retired, she is in menopause, and my dad isn’t by her side, but they still believed that it was my mom’s personality caused her losing money. Somehow, I agreed with them on that at that time, too.

In this case, I think my mom is the actor; she put the blame on the particular situation rather than her personality. The observers (I and my relatives) think the biggest problem is her personality rather than situational factors.

In my opinion, the problem is hard to be fixed in this case, it’s obvious that both of my mom and my relatives need to work on communications a lot more, but the fact is they have been that way for years. But after realizing that this is a cognitive bias that many people would fell to, I’ll remind myself to think about other people’s situations more, and I’ll let my mom and relatives to understand and recognize this cognitive bias, and remind them to more understandable for themselves and for others, too when a disagreement arises.

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