We often discuss how your brain can trick you and, by proxy, how you can hack your brain, but there are a few things our minds are very good at tricking us into that we should be aware of. This video from the folks at DNews is a crash course in three of them: sunk cost, optimism bias and confirmation bias.
The video’s about three minutes long, but it serves as a great crash course for some of the nastier things our brains are hardwired to do, even if we think we have the willpower to do something differently. For example, the sunk cost fallacy is that thing that makes us prioritise what we’ve lost over what we could possibly gain — leading us to keep eating when we’re full, justify poor buying decisions, or make us keep watching a TV show that we say we hate. The video also tackles the topic of optimism bias, or our natural tendency to believe that bad things just won’t happen to us, even if we’re the ones engaging in behaviours that are bad for us. Of course, optimism bias is a good and a bad thing, and helps us strive to better, greater things.
Finally, the video hits on a topic I’m big on, confirmation bias. It’s a topic we’ve discussed several times, and its our tendency to only seek out or spend time with perspectives and opinions that already agree with and support our established world view — which, unfortunately, cuts us off from other people’s experiences, narrows our understanding of the world, and wraps us up in a cozy bubble of “I’m right” regardless of what the truth may be.
In all of these cases there isn’t too much you can do about it other than to be aware of it consciously whenever possible, especially when you’re trying to make decisions. We’re hard-wired for each of these, so you can’t just turn them off — but you can fight back by understanding how your brain works, and adopting techniques to short-circuit those mental processes and inject your conscious mind into the decision-making process whenever possible. Some of the links above will help, and hit the link below to read the studies referenced in the video (in the video description) or see more from the folks over at DNews.
3 Dumb Ways Your Brain Sabotages You [YouTube]