How To Defeat The Seven Deadly Decision Biases

Our brains come with seven powerful biases that distort our decision making like funhouse mirrors. Three derail us before we decide, three gum up the works afterward and the last is the worst of all.

Here’s a brain owner’s guide to these biases, how they work and what you can do about them.

Before We Decide

You’re facing a big decision. Stakeholder meetings are in place. Spreadsheets and presentations are in progress. And your brain is hard at work getting in the way of making the best decision because, unfortunately, it’s hard-wired to survive in a dangerous hunter-gatherer world long before the written word existed, let alone Zoom happy hours.

1) Loss Aversion

We are naturally and irrationally risk-averse. Even when we don’t feel particularly afraid of a bad outcome, our brains still silently tip the scale in favor of choices that preserve what we have today over pursuing a better result in the future. The impact can be huge. Clever behavioral scientists have calculated that this effect can cause us to act as if the potential loss is 2X larger than it really is.

That sort of bias made sense when an infected cut from a failed hunting expedition had a good chance of killing you. But your worried brain isn’t doing you any favors in the modern workplace, where taking a smart risk is unlikely to get you fired, let alone kill you.

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