08 July 2009
From Denny: Here is part 2 of Luciano's article about foolproofing your mind from thinking traps!
This is an excerpt:
"In the first part of this article, we focused on five traps that hinder our ability to think clearly. Now it’s time to complete the list and expose yet another five dangerous traps to be avoided. Let’s dive right in.
"6. The Conformity Trap: Everybody Else Is Doing It
"In a series of experiments, researchers asked students in a classroom a series of very simple questions and, sure enough, most of them got the answers right. In another group, they asked the same questions but this time there were actors posing as students, purposefully pushing wrong answers. This time around, many more students provided wrong answers based on the leads from the researchers’ assistants.
"This “herd instinct” exists — in different degrees — in all of us. Even if we hate to admit it, other people’s actions do heavily influence ours. We fear looking dumb: failing along with many people is frequently not considered a big deal, but when we fail alone we must take all the heat ourselves. There’s always peer pressure to adopt the behaviors of the groups you’re in.
"This tendency to conform is notoriously exploited in advertising. Businesses often sell you products not based on their features, but by showing how popular they are: since others are buying it in droves, why would you not join them?
"Conformity is also one of the main reasons why once a book makes into a well-known best-sellers list, it tends to “lock in” and continue there for a long time. People like to consume what “everybody else” is consuming.
What can you do about it?
"Discount the influence of others. When analyzing information, shield yourself from other opinions — at least at first. This is the best way to decide without being subconsciously swayed by popular opinions.
"Beware “social proof”. Always raise a flag when someone tries to convince you arguing primarily on the popularity of a choice, instead of on that choice’s merit.
Be courageous. Be willing to overcome obstacles and defend your viewpoints, despite their unpopularity. Don’t be afraid pointing out that the Emperor wears no clothes."
By Luciano Passuello @ litemind
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