Saturday, July 7, 2012


As I get older, I become more and more aware of the power of biases.  We use them to validate our own personal value, which is fine, but we also fail to remove them sufficiently from our prescriptions to deal with real issues.

In my industry, a well-respected company is using this comment on its sales materials, laid over a picture of an obviously older, obviously male and presumably affluent individual (based on his dress and grooming).

"I am confident that some day, I'll see the success I'm planning for today."

What are the biases at work here?  The two big ones I see are hope bias (the alternative [despair] being so unattractive) and causation bias (maybe your planning is actually impeding your success).  There is also intent bias (that you're finding the answers you're looking for) and probably some confidence bias (that it's easy to claim as true when you have a very high probability for success).

In the poor communities, you see the exact opposite of these biases.  There is too much to do, we can't change anything, there is no solution and why bother.

No comments: