Why we hate to change our minds


The Greater our Investment
The greater the likelihood
we will hold on to ideas that don’t serve us

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Foundational Concept of the Intentionality Series
Opinions vs. Facts

Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong.  Presented with conflicting information, accepting the new evidence would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable (called cognitive dissonance)

And because it is so important to protect that core belief, they will rationalize, ignore, and even deny anything that doesn’t fit with the core belief.~ Franz Fanon, Free Your Mind and Think

Confirmation Bias

There has been a great deal of research and writing on the implications of the concept of confirmation bias. I have often referred to the concept here on ADDandSoMuchMORE.com, so many of my regular readers are already familiar with the expression.

Given today’s political climate, I believe it is time to review a few ideas
as we all attempt to make sense of what’s going on.

Some of you will recall seeing the information in the box below – but I believe it will be useful to take a moment to reread it as an introduction to this particular article.

Confirmation bias is a term describing the unconscious tendency of people to favor information that confirms their hypotheses or closely held belief systems.

Individuals display confirmation bias when they selectively gather, note or remember information, or when they interpret it in a way that fits what they already believe.

The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues, for deeply entrenched beliefs, when we are desperate for answers, and when there is more attachment to being right than being effective.

How it tends to work

Human beings will interpret the same information in radically different ways to support their own views of the themselves. We hate to believe that we might have been wrong — especially when we have invested time and energy coming to a decision.

Studies on fraternity hazing have shown repeatedly that, when attempting to join a group, the more difficult the barriers to group acceptance, the more people will value their membership.

To resolve the discrepancy between the hoops they were forced to jump through and the reality of whatever their experience turns out to be, they are likely to convince themselves that their decision was, in fact, the best possible choice they could have made.

Similar logic helps to explain the “Stockholm Syndrome,” the actions of those who seem to remain loyal to their captors following their release.

©Dogbert/Dilbert by Scott Adams — Found HERE

Adjusting Beliefs

People quickly adjust their opinions to fit their behavior — sometimes even when it goes against their moral beliefs overall. We ALL do it at times, even those of us who are aware of the dynamic and consciously fight against it.

It’s an unconscious adaptation that is a result of the brain’s desire for self-consistency. For example:

  • Those who take home pens or paper from their workplace might tell themselves that “Everybody does it” — and that they would be losing out if they didn’t do it too.
  • Or they will tell themselves, perhaps, “I’m so underpaid I deserve a little extra under the table – they expect us to do it.”

And nowhere is it easier to see than in political disagreements!

When validating our view on a contentious point, we conveniently overlook or “over-ride” information that is at odds with our current or former opinions, while recalling everything that fits with what is more psychologically comfortable to believe – whether we are aware of it consciously or not.

We don’t have to look further than the aftermath of the most recent election here in America for many excellent examples of how difficult it is for human beings to believe that maybe they might have been wrong.

BUT WHY?

To understand why, we need to look briefly at another concept that science has many studies to support: cognitive dissonance.

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The Brain: Why much of what you think you know is WRONG


Science Marches On
and older information becomes obsolete

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

The Importance of Life-Long Learning

It’s an essential endeavor for everyone with a brain to continue to seek out and pay attention to credible information that will help us delay – or avoid – the onset of dementia, preserving cognitive functionality as we age.

However, it is especially important for scientists, treatment and helping professionals to keep up with new information and incorporate it into their theories, tests and treatment protocols.

And yet . . .

I have been beating this drum – while seeking new, scientifically valid information for over 30 years now – in my futile attempt [so far] to get some traction toward effective care for those of us with Executive Functioning disorders.

A concept known as Confirmation Bias explains part of the reason that my efforts [and those of others] have, for the most part, failed – but timing is everything.

Related Post: Why we HATE to Change our Minds

Getting updated, substantially more accurate information to “the professional down the street” simply takes far too long, as the continual explosion of partially-informed new coaches, bloggers and pinners confuse and confound the issue further.

They all seem to be well-intended, albeit at least partially misguided, spreading obsolete information all over the internet at an unprecedented rate.  For those who make an effort to continue to learn, it seems that the more that new information might persuade them to update their theories and methodologies along with their information base, the more tightly they hold to cherished beliefs – the very essence of cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory makes predictions that are counter-intuitive — predictions that have been confirmed in numerous scientific experiments.

If you aren’t familiar with the concept or the term, you will probably be surprised to see how widely it applies. Once you learn to pay attention to it, you will also be surprised at how it changes your behavior as well as your perception of your world.

Embracing its reality might also encourage you to investigate brain-based information further, allowing your mind to incorporate the latest in scientific findings, rather than repeating information that is, sometimes, decades old.

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Black and White Make-wrong


One of The Black & White articles from The Challenges Inventory™ Series
Foundational Concepts of the Intentionality Series: Opinions vs. Facts

Blog Belittlement — yet not here!

© by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
NoCyberBullying

A overdue THANK YOU
to my Readership!

NEWS TO KNOW — in the over two years of this blog’s life (born, essentially, in March 2011), I have gotten only THREE comments that crossed the line separating disagreeable from disagreement.

(Not counting, that is, whatever is inside the thousands of auto-spammed comments I’ve never seen — caught by the Akismet spam filter on this blog — check out the spam counter near the top of the skinny column to your right.)

Think about that for a moment.

From YouTube to The Huffington Post — to Scientific American, for heaven’s sakes — the comments section seems to be developing into little more than a place to indulge in a snide and sarcastic form of cyber-bullying, discounting entire articles and comments from others with a sneering couple of words that add nothing but nastiness.

Sadly, many sites have felt the need to disconnect the comments feature because of the abject churlishness of the comments that have been posted. Moderating and editing thousands of comments can be a tedious task indeed — NOBODY has the time to sift through and delete all that stuff when the “trolls” and haters decide to descend.

  • YET on ADDandSoMuchMore.com, where the readership make-up is primarily those whom we would expect to have more than a few issues with impulsivity (and more than a few frustrations to take out on the closest available victim), it is practically non-existent.
  • WE seem to be a community of civilized, respectful and supportive, grateful-for-anything-that-might-help band of brethren.

How cool is THAT!?

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Confirmation Bias & The Tragedy of Certainty


WrongTrain

“If you board the wrong train,
it’s no use running along the corridor
in the other direction.”

~ the fascinating & courageous theologian,
Dietrich Bonhoeffer


How do you KNOW?
And what do you do with that belief?

© By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Foundational Concepts of the Intentionality Series
Opinions vs. Facts

Facts, Suppositions, Extrapolations & Opinions

Another delightful Martin illustration of a woman with a question mark on her tee shirt, holding a sheet of paper in each hand, each printed with a single word : FACT or OPINION.In the past two years, I have been reading a large number of “neuroscience” books — which means, of course, that I have been reading the opinions of neuroscientists that they have put forward into book form.

Here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com, I shared my reaction to the various opinions in the first of what will become a Series of writings about opinion and fact:

(Science and Sensibility – The Illusion of Proof: Observation: Anecdotal Report and Science ).

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Science and Sensibility – the illusion of proof


The Illusion of Proof


© By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Foundational Concepts of the Intentionality Series

Observation, Anecdotal Report and Science

I have a love/hate relationship
with science.  

I’m hoping to encourage the readers of this blog to develop a similar approach to what we like to think of as “proof.”

I’d like to convince you of the wisdom of stepping away from black and white thinking to embrace the possibility of the pragmatics of gray.

(By the way, the perils of  black and white thinking is one of the most useful concepts I write about, so if you haven’t clicked over to read, don’t miss it!)

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