Thinking straight is not always easy. It is harder to think logically and to avoid being led astray by illogical pitfalls, than it would seem. Even those of us who pride ourselves on our rational approaches towards life still make judgments on the basis of inadequate information. Take an example when we jump to conclusions and think “I will never get out of this mess”. In other scenario try mind-reading and conclude “They think I am stupid”. For more frequently than we realize we use thinking strategies that are based only loosely on fact, or we make one of a number of the standard mistakes studied and analyzed by the experts.
Following are some common mistakes in thinking which leads individuals to think on wrong patterns.
Misled by theories, beliefs and assumptions: –
We need theories of all kind. Theories enable us to operate efficiently in a constantly changing world. Theories also define for us those things we take for granted.
Next are opinions, once formed are remarkably resistant to change even in the face of contradictory evidence. Problems with opinions are this that they can easily slip into prejudices. Prejudices are such beliefs about ethnic characteristic. What we see, notice, attend to, and remember is in many ways determined by the beliefs, frameworks and theories that we already have, rather than the older way round. Our daily observations hardly ever change our preconceptions.
Being Misled by Associations: –
Consider an example. Danish has bad cold with a headache. He meets someone who complains of a headache and they start talking about the kind of cold they both have, about how to fend off its worst effects, and about how it interferes with the ability to think clear. They both are making fundamental thinking errors which involve being misled by similarities. Because, their problems are associated with each other. They assume the problems have the same cause. But the friend may be suffering from a totally different ailment an allergy, an infection from different source.
Being misled by what springs to Mind: –
In 1946 Solomon Asch demonstrated an experiment in which he asked people to form an opinion about a person who was described as “intelligent, industrious, impulsive, critical, stubborn, and envious”. He witnessed if that the adjectives were presented in above order the opinions were more positive then if they were presented in reverse order. All of us tend to give undue weight to things that spring to mind. The trouble is that what springs to mind at a particular time is often determined by extraneous factors like the order in which things were said during a work appraisal or by whether we were feeling anxious or depressed.
Halo effect: –
When people are influenced by the weight of authority, they run the risk of being misled by halo effect. For example, people may listen to their doctor’s pronounce cements about career decisions, and to what their lawyers have to say about personal relationships.
Presentation effect: –
If a salesman holds your interest by speaking well, by making you laugh, and by using apt illustrations, you will be more likely to believe what he or she says. This is known as presentation effect. The more boringly someone talks, irrespective of what they say the less influence they will have.
Fundamental attribution error: –
Iqbal is a social worker. According to his colleagues he is very reliable, communicative and level headed. He is married to 29 years old Salma who works part time in a grocery store. According to her Iqbal is detached from family, forgetful and irresponsible. The two views of Iqbal are almost diametrically opposed, and both of them are expressed as if they described his personality. This is the fundamental attribution error: behavior is attributed to enduring qualities of people rather than to the situations, circumstances and events that surround them.
Scientific reality: –
We live in times which set great store by the objectivity and reality of scientific observations. These are indeed responsible for much of the progress from which we benefit daily. The opposite side of the coin is that appealing to the scientific evidence regardless of whether this is justified, is an unduly persuasive form of argument.
As most of us are not experts, we are easily dodged. Perhaps the best we can do is to keep an open mind, learn more about how to evaluate the information with which we are presented and guards against false prophets.