The Confirmation Bias

In psychology, the term “confirmation bias” identifies the tendency to give importance to information that confirms our point of view, minimising information that supports other points of view. We all like to be right and, possibly because of that, we all suffer from this bias. Moreover, in our day-to-day living, we often do not have time to explore all options, and, in the end, we chose to see only those that make our lives easier in the short run.

However, there are situations where this bias is served to us in a silver looking tray. In this case, the bias is not as much from the person who consumes it, as it is from the person serving it, that affected by ignorance or armed with bad intentions, presents it as the truth and nothing but the truth.

Here is an example: governments  in certain countries have recently decided to make labour laws more flexible and layoffs easier to execute. Although this is probably a correct argument, they’ve left out of this discussion other factors without which it makes no sense to talk about flexibility, namely the fact that salaries also need to be adjusted to the cost of living, so that people can still be prepared to honour their agreements in the case of unemployment.

Confirmation Bias
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(Note: this post was initially published in Portuguese in http://www.150palavras.blogspot.com)

Do I Tell You a Story?

In one of his books, Jorge Bucay – an Argentinian gestalt psychotherapist, psychodramatist and writer – tells the story of a man who buys a pair of shoes which are two sizes too small. Still in the shoe store, he tries them out and, with a lot of difficulty, walks off. Some hours later, already in its workplace, his face is red and tears are starting to role down his cheeks.

– What is happening? – one of his colleagues asks.

– It’s the shoes. They are two sizes too small and are killing my feet.

– And so, why do you wear them?

– Well… It’s true that with these shoes I suffer like hell, but can you imagine the relief I will feel what I get home and take them off? Oh! What a pleasure!

I’m not sure if is a biological mechanism, or a moral imposition, or a market rule that makes us progress as a species, but condemned us to only appreciate those things that come with a cost. I have however the sensation that having simple pleasures would take us the same way – slower, that’s a guarantee – but with a lot less suffering.

Pain in the foot
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(Note: this post was initially published in Portuguese in http://www.150palavras.blogspot.com)

A Leader’s #1 Focus (An Essay)

This essay discusses what should be the number one focus of a leader. It does so by looking at theory and research that identifies the dimensions for a successful leadership, to derive from this what should be a leader’s main focus points. It proposes that well-being and satisfaction of group members is part of a leadership style and one more element of the leader’s toolbox, but not a goal in itself.

This essay concludes by suggesting the number one focus of a leader must depend on the type of task, the context and the group members’ characteristics.

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Alfred Adler (An Essay)

This essay will give an account of the main aspects of the life, work and times of Alfred Adler, the founder of Individual Psychology. It will describe how his childhood has laid the foundation for his work. Additionally, it will try to demonstrate that Adler has a place in the history of psychology that goes beyond his association with Freud.

alfred-adler
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In an Election Day

[…] By the mere fact that he forms part of an organised crowd, a man descends several rungs in the ladder of civilisation. Isolated, he may be a cultivated individual; in a crowd, he is a barbarian — that is, a creature acting by instinct.

– Le Bon, G. (1895). The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind

Only as individuals we are human – this is how I prefer to read Le Bon’s words. It’s a soft interpretation that also allows for an optimistic corollary: the group has the potential to give the individual a super-human capacity. There is, however, two sine qua non conditions: first, the individual should be capable of thinking; second the individual should be prepared to change their own thoughts.

Thinking is a lonely business that only truly happens when we are free from the shackles of the group. Only the Individual thinks and only the thinking Individual has an opinion. Opinions, however, will have more strength if the group finds in them a meaning. The group is also responsible for challenging opinions and finding new meanings.

Possibly this is what is missing in today’s democracies: we want to think in group what we cannot think individually.

rainbow umbrella concept
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(Note: this post was initially published in Portuguese in http://www.150palavras.blogspot.com)