5 Common Mental Errors That Sway Your Decision Making

Are you satisfied with the decisions you make?  Do you make emotional and irrational decisions that lead you to take actions that you regret?  James Clear dug into research from around the world to identify and expand upon the most common mental errors that derail your decision ma

His research led him to five common mental errors that plague us all.

Survivorship Bias

Survivorship bias refers to our tendency to focus on the winners in a particular area and try to learn from them while completely forgetting about the losers who are employing the same strategy.

We’ve all heard about this one:  Bill Gates and Steve Jobs dropped out of college and succeeded wildly.  But for every Bill or Steve, untold thousands failed.

Loss Aversion.

Loss aversion refers to our tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains. Research has shown that if someone gives you $10 you will experience a small boost in satisfaction, but if you lose $10 you will experience a dramatically higher loss in satisfaction. Yes, the responses are opposite, but they are not equal in magnitude.

The Availability Heuristic.

The Availability Heuristic refers to a common mistake that our brains make by assuming that the examples which come to mind easily are also the most important or prevalent things.

Did you know that according to Steven Pinker at Harvard University, we are currently living in the least violent time in history?  And it seems bad now…


There is a burger joint close to my hometown that is known for gourmet burgers and cheeses. On the menu, they very boldly state, “LIMIT 6 TYPES OF CHEESE PER BURGER.”

My first thought: This is absurd. Who gets six types of cheese on a burger?

My second thought: Which six am I going to get?

Anchoring is also a neurolinguistic programming technique.  When persuading people to do what you want, you toss out a position (an anchor) and refer back to it as the new central theme of the discussion.  It is a powerful tool.

Confirmation Bias.

The Grandaddy of Them All. Confirmation bias refers to our tendency to search for and favor information that confirms our beliefs while simultaneously ignoring or devaluing information that contradicts our beliefs.

This is a well researched and well thought out article by a very good writer in the field of behavior physchology. I subscribed to his blog a year ago and have learned some useful techniques to apply to business and life.

Source: 5 Common Mental Errors That Sway Your Decision Making

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