Our mind is a powerful tool. It can create new realities, it can find a new path in our life and it can find unthinkable solutions. Keeping a strong mindset and developing constantly is a great way to refresh our minds. During the process, we might think to improve our capabilities. However, when we thought we are improving or find a solution, it can harm us. We are only human beings and we do mistakes in our thought processes. Here are the four mistakes we make in our thinking.
The Four critical thinking mistakes
Our brain is complex, wonderful, and at the same time, dangerous. Because we are just humans who naturally make mistakes. Mistakes in our career, love, and as well in our thinking. Besides, the four mistakes we make in our thinking cannot be eliminated. But it helps us that we are aware of them. So, we must sharpen our thinking to prevent them.
The Anchor Effect
During my early 20’s, I was easily impressed by people who were determined to follow their dreams. For me, it was impressive how much effort they put in. Also, their passion was indescribable. As a result, I was convinced pretty easily to join their businesses. During this time, I sold insurance and phone contracts. Unsurprisingly, I lost motivation soon. Looking back at this chapter of my life, I was impressed by the promising future they lived, the fancy clothes they were and the high society they lived in. I was just impressed by minor things and I did not realize the effort behind it. I guess many young people fall for this fancy life. But it is part of growing up, isn’t it?
Before any decision, we assume to consider all factors. Negative and positive factors are flowing in our decision-making. We would make a list and discuss it with ourselves numerous times and maybe with our family and friends.
In reality, we most strongly trust the very first information we are given. In other words, the first thing we hear about someone influences our judgment of the person or a group of people.
The solution is pretty easy. Do not trust your first impression. It sounds easier than done. Because we humans are programmed to trust our instinct. But in our modern time, the world is more complex than just surviving. So, look twice before you trust anyone or decide on your next move.
The Confirmation Error
The flat earth theory or the belief that Covid-19 is a scheme is founded by people who fall victim to the confirmation error. In my opinion, it is the most dangerous thinking mistake anyone can have. Because this thinking error leads to dangerous ideology. In Berlin are many people who believe that Covid-19 is created by the government. So, they can verify themselves to put Germany on lockdown. Their goal, weaken the local businesses to empower big companies. We can laugh at it now. But this thought can become a real threat. In one of my older posts, I wrote about the confirmation error in more detail.
We are thinking that we objectively assessed the situation before making a decision. Also, we believe we are looking at problems without any emotions and bias.
We interpret information in such a way that it affirms or conviction. Or vice versa: we block out information that contradicts our opinions. Nobody googles counterarguments.
The solution is pretty simple and I use this quite often. We must assume that we are wrong. In any possible “correct” theory, we must assume that we are wrong. If not, we manipulate ourselves, make ourselves inflexible, and narrow our view.
The Availability Error
When I was a young, naive student back in 2012, I had problems paying my bills. After quitting university, I had no income. So, I was flooded with reminders to pay my bills. One of them was an internet provider. I had problems, or I did not even respond to their letters. It escalated because if I did not pay my bills within 2 weeks, it would come with big consequences. I paid in the end. But I was biased towards this internet provider. Every contact with them, via an advertisement or a store, I would insult them how bad they are. But clearly, it was my fault to let this happen. The availability error can be much worse and is one of the reasons that lead to racism.
We have good arguments for making a particular decision.
We base our arguments on simple, available, and above all autobiographical information. You had a car accident with a Golf? VW makes awful cars! You once had a pretty girlfriend from Poland? All Polish people are good-looking! You were cheated on? All girls/guys are the same!
Do not trust anecdotal evidence.
The Fast/Slow Error
We believe we have intuitively made the right decision.
Although impulsive decisions can be good, they are not always. Daniel Kahnemann identified two styles of thinking: System 1 (quick and intuitive) and System 2 (slow and careful). For example, a coffee and a cookie together cost 1.10€. The coffee costs 1€ more than the cookie. How much does the cookie cost? Most people would immediately say 10 Cent. This is the System 1 way of thinking. But if you think through the problem more carefully with System 2., you will come to the correct answer. The cookie costs 5 Cent.
To prevent mistakes, we have to review our tasks and thinking process. For example, read emails through again before sending them.
Summary – The Four critical thinking mistakes
The four mistakes we make in our thinking are made unconsciously. There is no way around it, even the smartest person falls into these traps once in a while. Therefore, it is more important to be careful what we are thinking. Is the first impression of a person the truth? Are we correct that our beliefs are valid? Do we have a solid argument why things suck? Shouldn’t we think it twice before making a decision?
Life is complex on its own. To make our life a bit clearer, be aware of the four mistakes we make in our thinking. As a result, our minds will be free from biased and even dangerous ideologies.