Avoiding Thinking Traps
Thinking traps are intellectual processes that lead you to false conclusions. You must be careful to avoid them. There are three types of thinking trap:
- selective perception,
- the contrast effect, and
Selective perception causes you to perceive what you expect and hope to see rather than what is true and accurate.
For example, if your company’s chief executive has just bought a fancy new car, you may say to yourself that the company must be prospering very well — but this may not be the case, only careful examination of the company’s revenue stream will tell you for sure. Mental and emotional expectations can lead you to incorrect conclusions.
That is why, before making a judgment of any kind, it is often beneficial to stop and question your motivation. If you have reasons for wanting to see things in a certain way, make sure that these do not prevent you from seeing the reality.
The contrast effect
A contrast effect occurs when you compare, or contrast, two different situations, and each one distorts your perception of the other one. When you let the contrast effect cloud your perception while solving problems, you get a distorted view of reality.
For example, a real estate agent might show a potential buyer an overpriced and run-down house so that when he shows an average house, it will look like real value.
To avoid being misguided by the contrast effect, be careful to ensure that you always compare like for like. To determine, for example, whether a house is reasonably priced, check the prices of other similar houses.
Rationalisation is like the other thinking traps in that it leads you to deny or skew some aspects of a problem. The problem-solving process features three steps — identifying a problem, making a decision, and reviewing a decision — and bad rationalizing can hamper all three stages.
For example, you may think one of your colleagues would not be interested in hearing your objections to some new policy, therefore, you decide not to bother mentioning them to him.
However, your assumption may have been wrong, and he may have relished the opportunity to hear your input and you may, as a result, have been able to get the policy changed.
You can avoid the rationalization trap by paying attention to your feelings when deciding getting feedback on your reasoning from others never rushing to judgment about a problem.
Selective perception, the contrast effect, and rationalization are shortcuts that, once taken, alter your perception of a problem. And when you begin solving a problem using one of these processes, it is hard to regain momentum toward success. Recognising thinking traps will help you take measures to avoid them. (Read more on Medium.com)