Cognitive distortion: how the brain sometimes misleads us

To the brain should be treated very seriously, because sometimes he is able to trace the owner around her finger, and he will be sure he is right, even if wrong. The blame for the systematic mistakes in thinking — in other words, the cognitive distortions. They represent irrational templates for which a person is, when it seems like he is guided by common sense.

Often and dependencies are where they do not exist: thus there are “happy shirt”, because there is a tendency to notice that the shirt was put on “always” when there was something good. Or the person involuntarily is attributed to bad character, because while Dating he was in a bad mood. Common in these examples is a disregard for the whole of the huge amount of new information that people have not received or not noticed.

It works as selective perception. People tend to see information that reinforces his point of view. For example, opponents of vaccination also find evidence that vaccinations are harmful because they can lead to disease and death. Around this belief, like a snowball, increasing successful stories of people did not do vaccinations. But the brain completely ignores, skips past the eyes and all information regarding risks besprivjazno approach, increasing in connection with the deaths.

Another popular variety of cognitive distortions — systematic error survivors. About it often says in his lectures science journalist — Asya Kazantsev. Error surviving easily, for example, found among the supporters of homeopathic remedies, when they claim that homeopathy works. And cite the example of the history of recovered people. In fact, not taken into account an important factor: those who have not recovered and survived, simply do not say. In this sense, those unaccounted silent voice more eloquent than the others. Such distortions always worth paying attention to. Information must be symmetrically accessible by compared groups. This will help to avoid hasty conclusions from insufficient data.

If the task is to improve the perception of incomplete or partially hidden information, it is useful to learn the basics of mathematical statistics and probability theory. The obtained knowledge you can hone in practice, not only in everyday life but also in the special game, based on the need to make accurate conclusions on incomplete or partially hidden data. The most famous game of this type poker, the player’s task — as precisely as possible to understand what cards the opponent has, interpreting his previous actions. The most optimal tactical analysis tools in this game are directly probability theory, mathematical statistics and behavioral psychology. Their use in practice will help to minimize the risks of cognitive traps.


A separate phenomenon — the effect of self-fulfilling prophecy. It has often resorted to the “magic experts” like fortune tellers and soothsayers. All that is required – with confidence to voice a prophecy, even if it is not true. If a person is convinced, he will take the necessary steps to ensure that all to perform. Even if the prediction was not so many chances to come true, thanks to these efforts, it also appears to be true. But not destiny, but through deeds and actions performed under the influence of said. So what is more useful to set their own goals and not surrender to the will and imagination of man from the side, whether it’s a fortune teller or clairvoyant who supposedly knows everything in advance.

Another distortion is related to the effect of moral trust, which is often built on the established reputation. People who have achieved the label “good man” (be it a politician, actor or other public person), the trust is so high that in cases of dispute, the public is likely to take his side and acquittal. Thus triggered an illusion of sanctity or forgiveness “little weaknesses” a good man.

In the fight against cognitive distortions helps understanding that not everything that seems natural, logical and unambiguous — is not actually. The brain is cunning and resourceful structure and to avoid such traps is possible only using his own weapons: a lot to think, learn to critically analyze the reality, to admit the possibility of error, to pay attention to statistics and objective data, to reason rationally and carefully. At the time of the delusion in the head is not red light warning, so it’s worth learning to incorporate it consciously.