Posts Tagged cognitive bias
Play the video (only about 1.5 min – you don’t need sound) and count how many times the team in white pass the basketball to each other…
A recent survey of over 4,000 UK employees conducted by GfK NOP found that one in four were planning to leave their organisation within the next year.
The survey suggests these intentions are linked to the actions taken by the employers dealing with the effects of the recession. Continuing measures such as redundancies, recruitment freezes, pay freezes and restrictions on training have led to reduced morale and diminished job satisfaction.
In the public sector almost 40% of employees reported that morale was worse than the previous year.
Throughout the recession a lot of attention has been paid to the obvious victims — those who have suffered redundancy and job loss — but what about the survivors, the ones who have kept their jobs but may have suffered in other ways?
Choosing an expensive item such as a car can be hard enough. In 2006 Ap Dijksterhuis, a researcher from the University of Amsterdam, made things a bit harder. He gave people various items of information about a selection four of cars and asked them to choose the best option.
The information had been engineered so that each car had a different mixture of positive and negative attributes, but one car was designed to be a best option and another was designed to be the worst option.
Dijksterhuis then divided his subjects into four groups. To two of the groups he only gave four items of information per car (simple condition), whereas the other group had to deal with 12 attributes per car (complex condition).
After reading the information about the cars, half of each group were allowed four minutes to think about their choice (conscious choosers). The other half were given anagrams to complete in order to distract them from thinking (unconscious choosers). They were then asked to make their choice of the best car and their result was compared with the real answer.
In the simple condition (four attributes per car), there was no real difference in success rate between the conscious and the unconscious choosers. However, in the complex condition (12 attributes per car) the people who had been distracted made consistently better decisions than the people who had been allowed to consider the choice.
So, is the unconscious mind better at making complex decisions than the conscious mind?
Two of the frequent aims of career coaching or counselling are to empower clients and to help them develop amibtious personal goals. Nothing could possibly be wrong with that, you might think.
However, according to studies performed by Mario Weick, from the University of Kent, and Ana Guinote, from University College London, people who experience feelings of power can seriously underestimate how long it will take to achieve their goals.
Imagine that you were receiving feedback on something you had worked on along with a colleague. Which of these two scenarios would you prefer?
- Scenario 1: You receive great feedback from your supervisor, but your colleague receives even better feedback.
- Scenario 2: You receive really negative feedback from your supervisor but your colleague receives significantly worse feedback.
On the face of it, Scenario 1 seems to be the best situation; you are receiving great feedback rather than negative feedback. However, in one study, certain people experiencing Scenario 2 reported feeling happier and more self confident than those experiencing Scenario 1. They would rather do better than their peers even if it meant performing much worse overall. Not everyone felt this way, though. In fact, it was only people who reported themselves as being generally unhappy who engaged in this social comparison. Happy people were just pleased to get a good report and didn’t measure themselves against other people.
What makes some people more sensitive to their relative success than to their absolute success? And what implications does this have for career decision making?
According to Barry Schwartz and his colleagues the unhappy people are ‘maximisers’ and the happy people are ‘saticficers’.