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“I told you!”, The fateful sentence resulting from a cognitive error

“I told you!”, The fateful sentence resulting from a cognitive error


In this article, I will tell you about cognitive biases . It is very likely that you have not heard of it, it is certain that at least once in your life, you will have come to terms with it.

What are biases?

The bias (or biases) are simply shortcuts of thought , automatic, sometimes unconscious, containing within itself a prejudice , and for that reason, unfortunately, can lead to “off-road”.

They are modalities of reasoning that come to life from the interpretation of information available, but which are partial and fundamentally determine a distortion of reality. Being aware of this mechanism, those involved in marketing and business, leverage on cognitive biases in order to achieve their commercial goals.

I tried to explain what we refer to when we talk about cognitive bias, but you are likely to be even more confused than before, now I will list some of them by making some examples applied to real life so as to make the concept better understandable and I’m sure that you will exclaim … “Ah, it’s true, it always happens to me too!”.

Confirmation bias or confirmatory bias

The confirmation bias comes from an idea, that is, you are convinced of something, and from that moment on you go in search of all the information that can confirm that same belief . It is as if we have a magnifying glass capable of finding any clue that can confirm one’s thesis. This bias gives rise to distorting phenomena, for which even ambiguous or neutral information is interpreted as the confirmation of that initial belief.

For example, if you are convinced that there are many more advantages in spending your holidays in the mountains rather than at the sea, this sentence will tend to crystallize because you will be led to give value to any information that is a newspaper article, the opinion of the neighbor. of home or the post of a friend on facebook, which confirms the thesis. Even negative information can confirm our thesis (for example, any mention of swimmers’ traffic, heat, sweat, etc.).

The rationale for this is that we are what we believe. Our identity is built on the basis of our beliefs. They are therefore important pillars of one’s being, and that is why it is difficult to modify them; this is true for important aspects of our identity as well as for more trivial matters as in the above-mentioned example.

Furthermore, let us remember that our brain works in “economy”, it is therefore easier for it to seek and find confirmatory information than contrary, which would therefore provide for a “questioning” of one’s idea.

Pattern Illusion (or Gambler’s Fallacy)

Our mind needs order, logic. With his tendency to create patterns (schemes) he often deceives us. Not only that, but this cognitive shortcut leads us to think that future events can be predicted based on past ones . This type of cognitive distortion is the one that most affects players.

Those who play the lottery from time to time will know that there are so-called “late numbers”, those that have not been released for some time and therefore seem the most attractive. But think about it … with each draw, the chance that a number will be drawn is always the same: 1 in 90.

With hindsight (what did I tell you ?!)

“I knew”, “I told you”. How many times have you heard or spoken these words? Well, even behind a “what did I tell you” a bias can be hidden.

With that “I knew it” one feels almost a bit prophet, sure of one’s own deductions , as holders of powers of foresight or prediction of the future. It is something that occurs often, and that affects many activities in life, from work to friendship, to love.

Basically, it’s about a tendency to think that things happen exactly as they were intended. In reality it is nothing more than a need (inherent in human nature) to give meaning to what happens and, in many cases, the need to obtain external confirmations of one’s value.

But I will tell you more, sometimes, things happen because we ourselves make them happen and, at other times, we simply interpret the reality that surrounds us in a very peculiar way , distorting, giving credit to some information and excluding others, all of this. to be able to exclaim the widespread “I told you so!”.

When thought is decisive for reality

Not only cognitive distortions concerning the sphere of “feeling”: our inner beliefs can spoil reality even in the concrete . An athlete who has to endure a race, and is convinced that he will never win it, the outcome is almost certain: he will never win it. And most likely at the end of the race he will say something similar to: “I felt it would go like this”.

In this case, I am sorry to have to say that it is not clairvoyance, nor prophetic abilities, but simply, the “self-fulfilling prophecy”: belief alone, thought alone, can determine reality .