I just got back from a meeting in Arizona with some of the smartest entrepreneurs and researchers in the country about how the brain works and how it tricks you. It was incredible to listen to them talk about how they adjust their brain activity and functions for maximum success.
How the Brain Works | Biases and How to Avoid Them
An Introduction to How the Brain Works
I brought back a really cool thing. It was actually a little talk that someone gave. It talks about what you could think about, ways your mind messes with you, fools you, and causes you to make bad decisions. Biases are what they’re called in science. But, this particular presenter talked about three of them and how the brain works and tricks you, as well as how you can overcome that to make much better decisions in real time.
So, are you ready? I’m going to go over these areas right now. Pull out a piece of paper and a writing instrument to jot down notes, and start learning more about your brain.
1. Confirmation Bias
So, the first bias on how your brain can trick you is called the Confirmation Bias. That is the tendency of the human brain to look for confirmation for existing beliefs. That’s when there is something that you’ve thought has been true in the past, right? And, when you hear something similar, you immediately want to believe it because it confirms the other thing you’ve always believed, but a lot of times it’s not true. It just creates cognitive distortions. Also, you simply have this mental mind bias; we all do.
How to avoid being tricked by this: It’s very simple. It’s on top of your mind. You ask yourself one question, “Why is this a bad idea?” Whatever it is, just ask that one question before you take action, and it will snuff out Confirmation Bias.
2. Framing Effect
All right, so number two is something called the Framing Effect. Again, these are huge concepts that negatively affect almost all humans. I’m giving you a way to take that out of play and give yourself a huge advantage. The Framing Effect is when the human brain makes different decisions based on how the information presented to you is framed. Now, I bet you’ve seen this in your life more than once, right?
People say something to you one way or ask you something one way, and it’s easy to say yes or no. But, then they ask it another way, and it’s much, much harder, right? It may sometimes cause emotional turbulence. This Framing Effect is another way of how your brain can trick you.
How to avoid being tricked by this: It’s very simple. You reframe the situation in a different light. So, in other words, make the positive negative, and make the negative thoughts positive. You are reframing what is said to you. If someone says something to you in a positive way, try and reframe it using negative thoughts, and do the opposite depending on the situation. What that does is it allows you to see things the way they presented it and then reframe the other way. You can do this in your brain in one or two seconds, but it allows you to avoid being tricked by the other person and by that effect.
3. Hindsight Bias
The third one is the Hindsight Bias. This is the fact that the brain puts too much weight on prior data and influences you to focus on this data in predicting the future.
Let’s say you drive and you come around a corner, it’s a sharp turn, but the car has always acted the same when you go around that corner. So, you’re assuming that is what’s going to happen again, right? But, what if it doesn’t? What if, in fact, there’s something else going on on that road or past the corner? You’re going to be in big trouble because you made a bunch of decisions based on what happened in the past. And, you’re assuming it’s going to happen in the future.
How to avoid being tricked by this: You ask yourself one simple question, “What can make this future different from the past?” This is a huge one. You can see how it applies to everything from how long it takes to get to the bus stop, to things that happen in school, to driving your car, to being driven, and to games. I mean, it’s a really, really great question. It might cause you to slow down or speed up or rethink something. It can make you more successful and possibly even save you from injury or worse, right?
These are the big, big things most people don’t know, and now you do.
How can you make better decisions by avoiding Confirmation Bias? Simply ask yourself, “Why is this a bad idea?” For the Framing Effect, simply reframe it quickly in your mind, positive to negative and negative to positive. And, for the Hindsight Bias, simply ask, “What could make the future different from the past?”
There are some important general suggestions on all these. The first is just slow it down. Slow it down, and consider these questions for every decision. Number two, ask yourself, “How important is this decision? Will it have a lasting impact on my life?” If it’s not that important, then don’t spend a lot of time on it. But, if it could hurt you or help you, if it’s a high-value situation, then, by all means, do take the time to consider these questions. Third, if possible, have somebody to advise you. If the situation allows, have someone who has your back, has your best interests at heart, and someone who thinks a little differently than you do.
If you want to learn more about how the brain works and how it tricks you or even amaze you, watch this video from CrashCourse’s channel:
I loved this discussion. It went on for about 40 minutes or so. In the end, all these super bright people thought they had some new ammo—some new things they could use to be more successful in the future. That’s also what I want you to do. Use what you’ve learned today to become more and more successful. Frankly, once you get used to almost all of these things, they actually take virtually no effort at all.
This is a big one, and I thought it was worth making sure I laid it out clearly. That’s it for this week. I will talk to you soon.
Now that you know how the brain works and tricks you, how are you going to make decisions moving forward? Tell us in the comments section below!
Up Next: How To Develop a Positive Mindset
Editor’s Note – This post was originally published on June 13, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.