Bias the way you see it...
The fact is, we’re all biased. Really. That’s not just a bias of mine, it’s been cleverly observed time after time in mounds of research. After all, look up cognitive biases on Wikipedia and you get this: about 200 variants of biases humans use regularly Wiki on Cognitive Bias
Why these biases exist at all in our minds is far too long for this post, but it’s most important that we are aware they exist at all. Frankly, understanding bias is useful for understanding how the mind works and the potential mental errors which plague providers and patients as a result.
For purposes of brevity, there are four mental obstacles that biases address very well
- Too much information
- There is so much stimulus we’re exposed to all the time, we cannot process it all. Our brains are masterful at picking out the important details and what’s different, repeated, bizarre, or confirming of our beliefs (seeing isn’t believing, you see it when you already believe it)
- Not enough meaning
- The world is confusing and there’s an illusion of the depth we actually can understand, so we fill in gaps and create models to more easily understand life’s complications by creating stories, stereotypes, simplifying, and lauding the familiar over the useful.
- Need to act fast
- Time is always of the essence and our human evolution molded a mind that could process quickly for survival, but this means we overemphasize our control, focus on what’s relatable, avoid irreversible decisions, and favor the simple option
- What our minds remember
- With all the information in the world, we can only retain bits and pieces and are regularly parsing the bits of information to save mind space. To do this effectively, we inject details into memories that aren’t accurate, discard specifics for generalities, and store information we think is important when it’s not actually valuable.
When we address patients aware of our own pitfalls with cognitive bias, we begin to understand how we can prevent errors for patients by acknowleding human fallibility. Keep this in mind, if you choose to…
Matt is a behavioral economics expert and would like to arm each of you with behavioral science tools to address strategic and delivery challenges. His firm, Ionia.co designs processes to optimize human motivation, persuasion, influence, perception, behavioral nudges, and gamification. If you are interested in engaging with your patients, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 205.434.3499.