Category Archives: Psychology

Human Psychology

A wonderful exposition of the confirmation bias. “You want to be right about how you see the world, so you seek out information which confirms your beliefs and avoid contradictory evidence and opinions.”

Indeed! Seek and ye shall find evidence for your preconceived notions, unless you understand and actively fight the confirmation bias in your own mind. The first step toward fighting back is realizing that it’s not your fault. The confirmation bias is wiring built into your unconscious mind, but your conscious mind, now made aware of this normally subconscious flaw, needs to fight back!

You Are Not So Smart

The Misconception: Your opinions are the result of years of rational, objective analysis.

The Truth: Your opinions are the result of years of paying attention to information which confirmed what you believed while ignoring information which challenged your preconceived notions.

By now you’ve likely heard of confirmation bias. As a citizen of the internet the influence of this cognitive tendency is constant, and its allure is pervasive.

In short, when you have a hunch that you might already understand something, but don’t know for sure, you tend to go searching for information that will confirm your suspicions.

When you find that inevitable confirmation, satisfied you were correct all along, you stop searching. In some circles, the mental signal to end exploration once you feel like your position has sufficient external support is referred to as the wonderfully wordy “makes sense stopping rule” which basically states that once you believe you’ve…

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Groupthink or Solitude?

Author Susan CainIntroversion expert Susan Cain has written a great Op-Ed piece in the New York Times Sunday Review exploring introversion, groupthink, and the benefits of solitude. As a self-professed introvert, I found the piece compelling reading and I highly recommend it.

Here is an interesting excerpt:

People in groups tend to sit back and let others do the work; they instinctively mimic others’ opinions and lose sight of their own; and, often succumb to peer pressure. The Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns found that when we take a stance different from the group’s, we activate the amygdala, a small organ in the brain associated with the fear of rejection. Professor Berns calls this “the pain of independence.”

The one important exception to this dismal record is electronic brainstorming, where large groups outperform individuals; and the larger the group the better. The protection of the screen mitigates many problems of group work. This is why the Internet has yielded such wondrous collective creations. Marcel Proust called reading a “miracle of communication in the midst of solitude,” and that’s what the Internet is, too. It’s a place where we can be alone together — and this is precisely what gives it power.

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