It’s never easy to listen to something you don’t want to hear, which is exactly why you should outsource some of your important decisions to less-invested friends. In some cases, giving up a little control can even save your life.
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We’re all subject to disconfirmation bias, a tendency to simply ignore facts that support ideas we don’t like, even when it comes to our health. Dr. Alex Lickerman recently told Psychology Today about a time he experienced minor chest pain on his drive home from work. He wondered briefly if it could be a complication from a recent appendectomy, but the unappetising thought of going back to the hospital, sitting in a waiting room for several hours and undergoing tests that were unlikely to find anything serious made it easy to dismiss the pain.
Luckily, he mentioned it to another doctor on the phone that night, who ultimately told him to come in for tests. A CT scan revealed a life-threatening pulmonary embolism that could have killed him if left untreated.
Lickerman explains why disconfirmation bias is so common when it comes to your health:
The point, then, is simply this: we’re cognitively predisposed, most of us, to believe we’re OK. The moment even minor symptoms flare, most of us begin explaining them away, not because they’re necessarily unimportant, but because we don’t want them to be.
The moral of the story is that the best decision is often left to someone else. You’re almost certain to let disconfirmation bias seep into important choices about jobs, relationships, and purchases, and while it may not be easy, sometimes it’s best to give up a little control and let someone removed from the situation tell you what to do. Have you ever given a friend or family member the power to make an important decision for you? Share your experiences in the comments!
Why We Shouldn’t Decide Ourselves When We Need Medical Attention [Psychology Today]