This morning a headline in the WSJ caught my attention: “How to Ignore the Yes-Man [or yes-woman] in Your Head.” It’s the WSJ, so of course the article talks about our behavior related to investing. However, I think it also hits a salient point on the topic of personal growth.
The article mentions confirmation bias, a phenomenon identified by psychologists. Confirmation bias is a term used to explain our tendency to seek information that supports our existing beliefs without considering evidence that challenges those beliefs.
From the article: “It is easier for people to rationalize than to be rational.”
By gathering more and more data to confirm our beliefs, we become more confident in our prejudices. (“Prejudices” is my term, whereas the article uses “predictions”.) Technically, this type of behavior is irrational because it automatically disqualifies any opposing views.
I believe confirmation bias can hinder our personal growth. Without seriously considering alternate viewpoints, we may continue to see people and the world in the same way.
But what happens when our assessments are wrong? What would we be missing out on (would we be missing the party)? How much further could we go in life if we had more balanced information at our disposal?
Carl Balingit is a former engineer who applies rational thought to the often subjective nature of traditional healing. He practices acupuncture in San Diego, CA.
He also prescribes Chinese herbal formulas. The herbs do not necessarily come from China.