Psychology of Human Misjudgement

Being aware of psychological ploys is not a perfect defense

  1. Reward and punishment superresponse tendency:
    • If you would persuade, appeal to interest and not to reason.
    • People’s actions will line up with what they’re rewarded for and away from what they’re punished for according to the rule of nature “repeat behavior that works”.It is extremely stupid to reward behavior that one doesn’t want.
    • Prompt rewards work better than delayed rewards in changing and maintaining the behavior.
    • The behavior is best reinforced with a random distribution of withdrawal of rewards( rewards must not be consistent).
    • Bad behavior is extremely habit-forming when it is rewarded
    • Granny’s rule( Do DAILY the unpleasant and necessary tasks first before rewarding yourself with the pleasant tasks) is an extremely example of reward superpower.
    • Consequences
      • Incentive Caused bias: Man is driven both consciously and subconsciously by incentives and will carry out whatever behavior is necessary to get that incentive. He’ll also rationalize his bad behavior towards getting that incentive.
    • Antidotes: For Consultants
      • Fear professional advice when it is especially good for the adviser
        • Learn and use the basic elements of your advisor’s trade as you deal with him
        • Double check, disbelieve, or replace much of what you’re told, to the degree that seems appropriate after objective thought
    • Antidotes: For employers
      • The use of sound accounting theory and practice. Accounting systems should accurately cater for operational reality. If you create an accounting system that encourages frauds, your employees will commit fraud because of their incentive caused bias.
      • The incentive structure shouldn’t intensely trigger incentive caused bias.
      • Prevent bad behavior from starting as it often becomes the case of “whose bread i eat, his song i sing”.
      • Tough internal audit systems
      • Severe public punishment for identified miscreants to ensure they do not occur anymore.
      • Misbehavior preventing routines and systems involving anti-gaming features are a necessity in system design “avoid rewarding people for what can be easily faked”.
  2. Liking/Loving Tendency:
    • Human beings are genetically programmed to like/love being liked and loved.
    • The phenomenon of liking and loving causing admiration also works in reverse. Admiration also causes or intensifies liking or love, often creating a vicious cycle.
    • A man constructed to love admirable persons and ideas with a special intensity has a huge advantage in life.
    • Consequences
      • It acts as a conditioning device that makes the liker or lover tend to
        • ignore faults of the object of his/her affection
        • favor people, products and actions associated with the object of his affection
        • distort other facts to facilitate love
  3. Disliking/Hating Tendency
    • The Opposite of the above.
    • Consequences:
      • It acts as a conditioning device that makes the disliker/hater tend to
        • Ignore virtues in the object of dislike
        • Dislike people, products and actions merely associated with the object of his dislike
        • Distort other facts to facilitate hatred.
      • Distortion of facts often make mediation between opponents locked in hatred impossible
  4. Doubt-avoidance Tendency:
    • Man is programmed with a tendency to quickly remove doubt by reaching some decision.
    • It is usually triggered by some combination of puzzlement and stress.
  5. Inconsistency-Avoidance Tendency
    • It is important not to put one’s brain in chains before one has come near his full potentiality as a rational person.
      • Man’s brain conserves space by being reluctant to change decisions we’ve earlier made.
      • This is evident in all habits(good and bad).
      • Works alongside the doubt-avoidance tendency to ensure hastily made conclusions and decisions are stuck too even when dis confirming evidence comes along.
      • This tendency also maintains previously made conclusions, loyalties, reputations, commitments etc
      • New ideas are often not accepted because they were inconsistent with old ideas in place(ideas often brain-block their holders from  accepting newer/better ideas).
      • Pretending to have an identity, habit or conclusion will cause it to prevail.
      • Consequences
        • A person making big sacrifices will intensify his devotion to the identity as it would be inconsistent to make big sacrifices for something that was not good.
        • Initiation ceremonies are often public in nature to intensify the commitment made. They’re often also tough to increase their costs to the individual.
      • Antidote:
        • “A drop of prevention is worth a river of cure”.
        • Prevent first conclusion bias by listening to arguments from both sides and consider all counterarguments.
        • Prevent confirmation bias(. Charles Darwin trained himself to) intensively consider any evidence tending to dis-confirm his hypothesis especially the good ones.
        • Be prepared to destroy your own ideas.
  6. Curiosity Tendency
    • Man is programmed with a curiosity tendency.
    • Culture greatly increases the effectiveness of curiosity in advancing knowledge.
    • Curiosity providesfun and wisdom after formal education has ended.
    • Consequences
      • Curiosity enhanced by the best of modern education helps man prevent or reduce bad consequences arising from other psychological tendencies.
  7. Kantian Fairness Tendency
    • Kant’s categorical imperative requires humans follow behavior patterns that if followed by all others would make the surrounding human system work best for everybody.
    • Consequences
      • Fair sharing is often expected and when it doesn’t occur, hostility often results. e.g. At a bus-stop, people often form a queue(fair sharing) and are hostile to people who don’t get on the queue(hostility)
  8. Envy/Jealousy Tendency
    • Occurs when something we desire is seen with another person
    • The world is driven by envy not greed.
    • Kantian fairness tendency often contributes to it.
  9. Reciprocation tendency
    • The natural automatic tendency of man to reciprocate both favors and disfavors is extreme and often works subconsciously.
    • It facilitates group co-operation for the benefit of members and commercial trade.
    • Reciprocation tendency causes many extreme and dangerous consequences all the time.
    • Guilt is the conflict triggered in one direction by reciprocate-favor tendency and in the opposite direction by reward super-response tendency pushing one to enjoy one hundred percent of some good thing
    • Consequences
      • Hatred to a level causing brutal conduct as seen in wars.
      • Joins forces with inconsistency avoidance tendency in causing 1. the fulfillment of promises made as part of a bargain 2. correct behavior expected from people in a role e.g. priests, doctors, engineers e.t.c.
      • Gift giving by salesmen to purchasing agents of companies to make them carry out “reciprocatory” purchases.
      • Concessions on the part of requester causing the requestee to make a “reciprocatory” concession. This is also used when requesting something outlandish where a request for something more outlandish is initially made and the requester concedes to the initial outlandish request he earlier intended.
      • Antidotes
        • Defer reaction
        • Do not or let employees accept any favors or gifts from vendors.
  10. Influence from mere association tendency
    • A conditioned reflex where mere association triggers a response.
    • Consequences
      • People associate a high priced item with its having higher quality. Companies will also raise the price of items to ensure this association takes place
      • Adverts target things the have extreme peculiar effects on the purchasers of products. E.G. Power equipment being advertised with beautiful women.
      • Some of the most important miscalculations come from what is accidentally associated with one’s past success, or one’s liking and loving, or one’s disliking and hating.(e.g. Because you wore a cap today, the ladies are feeling you and you associate their reactions to your cap and you wear a cap every time.)
      • Hating and disliking something because of a precious negative association
      • Liking and loving because of a previous positive association.
      • Persian messenger syndrome: Killing the bearer of bad news. This often causes people to hide negative outcomes or let them fester instead of bringing them into the limelight for fast resolution.
      • It sometimes works against reciprocate favor tendency. A man in misfortune who gets help from someone fortunate may experience an envy driven dislike for the fortunate person. He then associates the favor giver with his misfortune and dislikes him
      • The use of stereotypes.
    • Antidotes
      • Carefully examine each past success looking for accidental, non-causative factors associated with such success that might mislead an appraisal of a new venture.
      • Look for dangerous aspects of a new venture that weren’t there when the past success occurred.
      • Objectively examine before making decisions.
      • Develop through exercise of will the habit of welcoming bad news.” Always tell us the bad news promptly, it is only the good news that can wait”. It also helps to be so wise and informed that people fear not telling you bad news because you are so unlikely to get it elsewhere.
      • To prevent stereotypes, One must learn that trend doesn’t always predict tendency and the average dimension in some group will not reliably guide him to the dimension of some specific item.
  11. Simple, pain-avoiding psychological denial
    • The reality is too painful to bear, so one distorts the facts until they become bearable. It usually has the worst outcomes when mixed with love, death and chemical dependency.
    • Consequences
      • Addicted people tend to believe they’re still in respectable condition with respectable prospects even as they deteriorate further.
    • Antidotes
      • Flee from all activities that can cause addiction
  12. Excessive Self-Regard Tendency
    • Man mostly mis-appraises himself on the high side.
    • Consequences
      • People appraise things they own higher than things they don’t own.
      • Man’s tendency for over-appraise-your-own-possessions phenomenon ” A man’s decisions are suddenly regarded by him as better than would have been the case just before he made them”. Even when it is obvious to him that it was a bad decision.
      • Man’s preference for people like himself. This explains cliquishness. People in an organization often select people like themselves, hence fraudulent people selecting fraudulent people making a problem resistant to change and worse.
      • A higher proclivity to gamble when a person can pick his number or can make complicated conclusions(e.g. football betting).
      • An over-appraisal of one’s talent/skill causing one to bet against higher skilled/talented players.
      • Bad hiring decisions as employers often over-appraise their own conclusions that rely on impressions in face-to-face contact. This often favors candidates who are marvelous presenters.
      • Man always makes excuses for his fixable poor performance instead of providing the fix. The worst criminals don’t appraise themselves as all that bad. They either believe
        • They didn’t commit their crimes
        • that considering the pressures and disadvantages of their lives, it is understandable and forgivable that they behaved as they did and became what they became.
      • Success from overconfidence that happens to cause success “never underestimate the man that overestimates himself”.
    • Antidotes
      • A willingness to “clean house” when one is in control of a group of cliquish problematic people.
      • Employers should under-weigh face to face contacts and over-weigh the applicant’s past record.
      • Be more objective when you are thinking about yourself, your family and friends, your property and the value of your past and future activity.
      • On a personal level, a  man should face this simple facts
        • fixable but unfixed bad performance is bad character and tends to create more of itself causing more damage to the excuse giver with each tolerated instance
        • In demanding places, you will surely be discarded if you keep giving excuses instead of behaving as you should.
      • On an institutional level
        • A fair meritocratic, demanding culture plus personnel handling methods that build up morale
        • Severance of the worst offenders and when that is impossible, fix them as best as you can.
  13. Overoptimism tendency
    • “What a man wishes, that also will he believe”.
      • Consequences
        • Man is usually excessively optimistic.
      • Antidotes
        • The trained habitual use of the simple probability math of Fermat and Pascal.
  14. Deprival-Super-reaction Tendency
    • Loss seems to hurt more than gain seems to help. If a man almost gets something he greatly wants and it’s taken from him at the last moment, he reacts as if he he had long owned the thing and it was taken from him.
    • This includes the reactions to both kinds of loss experience
      • The loss of the possessed reward
      • The loss of the almost possessed reward.
      • Consequences
        • Man often incurs disadvantage by mis-framing his problems often comparing what is near instead of what really matters.
        • Man reacts with irrational intensity to even a small loss, or threatened loss of property, love, friendship, or any other valued thing. As seen in bureaucratic infighting which is usually to the detriment of an organization as a whole.
        • This protects ideological or religious views by triggering dislike and hatred towards vocal nonbelievers as the ideas of nonbelievers if allowed to spread will diminish the influence of the believers view.
        • It works with inconsistency-Avoidance tendency to ensure that extremes of ideology are maintained with great intensity and with great antipathy to non-believers, causing extremes of cognitive dysfunction(Also called group-think).
        • Labors resistance to reduced wages even when it’s clearly in their interest to make a different decision.
        • Ruin from compulsion to gamble.
          • It causes the gambler to have a passion to get even once he has suffered loss, and the passion grows with the loss
          • The most addictive forms of gambling provide a lot of near misses with each triggering Deprival-Super-reaction tendency
        • Overpriced purchases at open outcry auctions as man is convinced that the last price from another bidder was reasonable and this tendency prompts him to top the last bid.
        • Combines with inconsistency-Avoidance tendency to cause a man to use all his good assets to attempt to rescue a big venture going bad.
        • Takeaways are difficult to get, causing  less rationality
    • Antidotes
      • To prevent group-think,
        • Keep in place an extreme culture of courtesy in spite of ideological differences.
        • Bring in able and articulate disbelievers of incumbent groupthink.
      • Never go to open outcry auctions
      • Prevent its combination with inconsistency avoidance tendency by learning poker.
  15. Social-Proof Tendency
    • The automatic tendency to think and act as he sees others around him thinking and acting.
    • It is genetic for young people to emulate their peers and not their parents. Hence it is more effective to manipulate the quality of their peers than on manipulating their children.
    • It is mostly triggered in the presence of either puzzlement or stress or both of them.
      • Consequences
        • Companies doing similar things as their peers
        • As it is triggered by a combination of stress and isolation, disreputable sales men use it. This is also used by cults.
        • Advertisers willing to pay for their products in movies( this combines mere-association tendency(brad Pitt!!!!!) with social proof
        • Combines with envy/jealousy and deprival-superreaction tendency in scenarios where several people are fighting for one instance of something when their are several instances of the same available.
    • Antidotes
      • Stop any bad behavior before it spreads
      • Foster and display all good behavior
      • learn how to ignore the examples from others when they are wrong.
  16. Contrast-Misreaction Tendency
    • Man’s senses do not measure in scientific units. They mostly register changes by noting contrast with their last recollected state( a $1000 addition to a $50000 car is barely noticeable). Cognition tends to follow this perception.
    • A little leak will often sink a great ship
    • Consequences
      • Small steps towards disaster will often cause a person to go too far towards disaster to avoid it.
      • Cognition, misled by tiny changes involving low contrast, will often miss a trend that is destiny.
      • An embezzler never embezzles a large amount his first time around. He often starts small and goes a little larger than he and his peers.
    • Examples
      • A salesman showing a prospect some extremely ridiculously priced items then showing him a moderately ridiculously priced item.
      • Advertisers putting a false before sales price to cause the buyer to make a contrast (ASOS!!!!).
      • Force your mind to notice the small leaks.
  17. Stress-Influence Tendency
    • Sudden stress causes a rush of adrenaline prompting faster and more extreme reactions. It also makes social-proof tendency more powerful.
    • Consequences
      • Light stress can slightly improve performance whereas heavy stress causes dysfunction (because it causes an extreme of pessimism, extended in length and accompanied by activity stopping fatigue causing stress depression).
      • Pavlov’s last work(Adequate stress can  change an individual’s behavior by causing stress induced nervous breakdowns)
        • Individuals can be classified to predict how easily they’ll breakdown.
        • The individuals hardest to break down were the hardest to return to their pre-breakdown state
        • Any individual could be broken down
        • A breakdown couldn’t be reversed without reimposing stress
  18. Availability-Misweighing Tendency
    • The brain over weighs what is easily available( Only the factors i (can see/know) are the ones that matter).
    • Man’s brains easily drifts into working with what’s easily available to it.
    • The brain cannot use what it can’t remember or what it is blocked from recognizing because it is heavily influenced by one or more psychological tendencies bearing on it
    • An idea or a fact is not worth more merely because it is easily available to you
    • Consequences
      • Extra-vivid evidence, being so memorable and consequently more available in cognition are usually over weighed. (use this to persuade someone to reach a correct conclusion and as a device for improving one’s memory by attaching vivid images one after the other to items one doesn’t want to forget)
    • Antidotes
      • The use of procedures e.g. Checklists to ensure other factors are taken into account
      • Emphasize dis-confirming evidence: emphasize factors that don’t produce lot’s of metrics.
      • Include skeptical, articulate people with far-reaching minds to advocate ideas that are the opposite of the status quo.
      • Over-weigh less vivid evidence and under-weigh less vivid evidence.
  19. Use-It-or-Lose-It Tendency
    • All skills attenuate with disuse
    • Consequences
      • The fewer the possessed skills practiced, the fewer the number of skills retained. This is the cause of man with  a hammer tendency.
      • Learning capacity shrinks as gaps are created in the latticework of theory needed for understanding new experiences.
      • If an individual is fluent in a skill, the skill will be lost more slowly and will come back faster when refreshed with new learning.
    • Antidotes
      • The use of simulators to practice rarely used skills
      • The dutiful practice of all useful, rarely used skills especially those outside his discipline. Some skills require daily practice
      • Assemble skills into a checklist that is routinely used. This is the only way to prevent missing important stuff
      • Never stop learning an important skill until you’re fluent at it.
  20. Drug-Misinfluence Tendency
    • See Simple, pain-avoiding psychological denial
  21. Senescence-Misinfluence Tendency
    • There is a natural cognitive decay that comes with old age.
    • Consequences
      • Complex new skills are very difficult to learn at an old age
    • Antidotes
      • Only intensely practiced skills are maintained in old age(refer to Use-It-or-Lose-it Tendency)
      • Continuous thinking and learning done with joy can delay its effect
  22. Authority-Misinfluence Tendency
    • Follow-the-leader tendency is a consequence of the dominance hierarchy we’re born into
    • Consequences
      • Man suffers greatly when his leader is wrong or when his ideas are misunderstood
    • Antidotes
      • Be careful who you appoint to power because a dominant authority figure will often be hard to remove, aided as he will be by authority-mis-influence tendency.
  23. Twaddle-Tendency
    • Man has a tendency to prattle and pour out twaddle that does much damage when serious work is being attempted.
    • The work of an administrator is to keep the people who don’t matter from interfering with the work of the people that do.
    • Antidotes
      • Keep prattling people, pouring out twaddle far away from serious work
  24. Reason-Respecting Tendency
    • Man has a natural love of accurate cognition and a joy in its exercise.
    • Few practices are wiser that not only thinking through reasons before giving orders but also communicating these reasons to the recipient of the order.
    • Consequences
      • Man learns well when a teacher gives correct reasons for what is taught instead of teaching without reasons given.
      • Ideas get through best when reasons for the ideas were meticulously laid out.
      • Learning is most easily assimilated and used when, life long, people consistently hang their experience, actual and vicarious, on a lattice work of theory answering the question: Why?
      • If a person gives incorrect or meaningless reasons, it still increases compliance with his orders and requests.
    • Antidotes
      • You had to tell who was to do what, where, when and why
  25. Lollapalooza Tendency
    • The tendency to get extreme consequences from confluences of psychological tendencies acting in favor of a particular outcome.
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