Not So Fast

We’ve all been warned about jumping to conclusions and in an environment of fake news and paid influencers, that’s sound advice, but much easier said than done unless you understand your own cognitive bias when it comes to forming opinions or making judgements.

We’re hit by a barrage of incoming emails, texts, and a variety of elective social media messaging and, given the speed and ease of communication, we’re often expected to respond immediately. Here’s where snap judgements can get us in trouble, otherwise known as fundamental attribution error, or correspondence bias.

Studies have shown that we’re quick to base our judgement of others on their personal attributes versus situational factors, when situational factors may be the true cause of behavior. And while we’re quick to judge others based on this dynamic, we rarely apply it to ourselves.

In a study done about behavior in business meetings, people believed that individuals who were more critical of recommendations or generally more pessimistic (i.e., what’s wrong with something versus what’s good about something) were thought to be more intelligent and thought they were perceived as being smarter. So, in this case, critical and negative equaled smart.

I’ve found myself jumping to conclusions about a variety of things in business and in my personal life when what I could be doing instead is taking more time to investigate and listen before forming a judgement. And speaking of judgements, we have a bias there as well. We have more positive appraisals of people and situations that serve to move our goals and agenda forward, and negative or neutral appraisals of those people and situations that don’t.

Think you know yourself and why you form opinions and make the judgements you do? Not so fast. Give yourself some time to think about the biases you may have before rushing to judgement.