Every one of us have our share of bad judgement and we either get away with it or we pay a heavy price for that. An idea that friendly strangers are bad would have prevented me from getting some great friends, yet we carry around stereotypes and preconceived ideas every day and put to use those ones. Some of the things which affect our judgement are

Ladder of inference/ Mental models

I came across these terms in Peter Senge’s The fifth discipline. It is about how we form opinions based on our narrow scope of observation and later on due to the influence of those opinions we form, we select the data from the event which validates our opinions. This was very well explained by one of my peers through an activity.

The facilitator randomly threw few pens on the floor and asked the audience for a number, the audience counted the no. of pens and gave an answer which he rejected by giving some random number. He continued to do the same thing many times and the audience started giving random numbers for ten consecutive times. After that he revealed that he was showing the number in his hands and the pens on the floor was just a decoy, post that when he threw the pens down people started noticing the number in his hand. In this experiment people just formed an opinion by relating to the pens down on the floor and the number.

It is no wonder why people form opinions based on their first impression/interaction, the world we perceive is just a model we have created based on the data we selected which are hardly verifiable or incomplete facts.

Recency effect/ Primacy effect

It is very easy to remember things which happened recently than a while ago. It is also very very easy to remember the first encounter but lots of things which happen in the middle tends to get lost. This effect in the hands of business people has become an effective tool but in the layman’s world if only the first and last things matter; then people who put a consistent effort to maintain something are not rewarded much compared to people who just create a great first impression and leave on a positive note but have completely messy approach.

We are always on the run and may not be able to review things as a whole but it is better to not concentrate on first and last things but look at things as a whole, it is very easy for us to form opinions based on just the first and recent impressions.

Availability heuristics

This is tricky, we like to consider ourselves intelligent and knowledgable; so we think that we have carefully selected the data and formed our opinions. Things which happen as expected is never a news, the one which comes up in the news is always something odd. News is often sensationalized, a good example is about the safety of the airplane travel. If we are able to imagine something vividly, then it is easy for us to picture the good things or pitfalls in it. We always look for shortcuts to confirm our opinions are right and that affects our judgement a lot, this often combines with the recency effect.

Good judgement comes with experience, experience comes with bad judgement

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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