Over the last few months, we have been examining Nobel Prize winning author, Daniel Kahneman’s book about human biases called Thinking, Fast and Slow. In it, he outlines heuristics (mental shortcuts) that influence our thinking and behavior. We’ll take a closer look at 3 more heuristics today.
Our emotion relies on its intuition; the basic assessments of what’s going on inside and outside the mind.
- Sums and Averages
Our emotion is prone to ignore “sum-like variables.” We often fail to accurately calculate sums but rely, instead, on often unreliable intuitive averages.
Our emotion is prone to “matching.” We automatically and subconsciously rate the relative merits of a thing by matching dissimilar traits.
- Mental Shotgun
Our emotions are prone to evaluate a decision without distinguishing which variables are most important. This is called the “mental shotgun” approach.
These basic assessments can easily replace the hard work logic must do to make judgments.
When confronted with a perplexing problem, question, or decision, we make life easier for ourselves by answering a substitute, simpler question.
- Instead of estimating the probability of a certain complex outcome we rely on an estimate of another, less complex outcome.
- Instead of grappling with the mind-bending philosophical question, “What is happiness?” we answer the easier question, “What is my mood right now?”
- Even though highly anxious people activate logic often, obsessing and second guessing every decision, fear, or risk, it is surprising how often emotion works just fine for them.
Even chronic worriers function effortlessly in many areas of life while the emotional system is running in the background. They walk, eat, sleep, breath, make choices, make judgments, trust, and engage in enterprises without fear, worry, or anxiety.
- Why? They replace vexing problems with easier problems.
- Potential for error? We never get around to answering the harder question.
Emotions influence judgment.
- “People let their likes and dislikes determine their beliefs about the world.”
- Potential for error? We can let our emotional preferences cloud our judgment and either under or over-estimate risks and benefits.
Becoming aware of how emotion and logic influence our thinking will help us make sounder decisions. Try examining your next assumption.
Onward and Upward,