Tag Archives: Behavior Change

Behavior Change

Biases in Unconscious Automatic Mental Processing, and “Work-Arounds”

Leonard Mlodinow

Leonard Mlodinow

Leonard Mlodinow’s Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior reviews evidence of automatic, out-of-awareness brain processing that handles emotional experience and routine task execution, in the same vein as  best sellers by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow) and writer Malcolm Gladwell (Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking).

Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman

All three authors outline the potential costs of rapid mental processing: error and bias in perception and decision-making, which are less present during mindful analytic problem-solving.

Mlodinow, a Physics Professor at CalTech, has collaborated with Stephen Hawking on two books, and like Kahneman and Gladwell, is a talented storyteller who explains implications of laboratory-based research on cognition and brain functioning.

Carol Tavris

Carol Tavris

Psychologist Carol Tavris discusses the cost of similar biases in cognitive processing in Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, 

Numerous studies of erroneous eyewitness testimony demonstrate that memory is constructed of fragmentary elements “stitched” together to form a cohesive narrative.
This contrasts the notion that memory is a “snapshot” replica of an event.

Opportunities for cognitive error are apparent in this Constructivist view of perception and cognition.

Most authors suggest “mindful” practices to counteract inherent biases in cognitive short-cuts, consciously focusing in present perceptions and experiences.

Mlodinow’s previous book, The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, demystifies the use of statistics in everyday life, and prepares readers with considered questions to avoid mis-judgments based on seemingly convincing quantitative data.

He demonstrates the prevalence of chance influences in life outcomes, and the pervasive illusion that people have control over many more outcomes than they actually do.

Mlodinow reminds readers that “success” and “failure” contain random influences, and “success” is more dependent on persistence and maintaining an optimistic outlook than raw ability.

-*What practices have helped you mitigate potential cognitive bias associated with rapid mental processing and cognitive “short-cuts”?

*Related posts:

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10 Ways to Build Resilience

A key factor in “psychological resilience”, or the process of adapting to unexpected adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or stress, is having caring and supportive relationships within and outside the family, according to research by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Other factors include:

• Making realistic plans and executing them
• Positive view of self
• Confidence in your strengths and abilities
• Skills in communication and problem solving
• Managing strong feelings and impulses

APA outlines actions that increase personal resilience

• Make connections with family members, friends, or others to request and accept support. Civic groups, faith-based organizations, or volunteering to help others can make meaningful connections

• Consider crises as solvable problems. You can change how you interpret and respond to these events.

• Recognize that change occurs with increasing frequency. You can balance thoughtful acceptance of a situation with acting to change it.

• Move toward your goals, with regular small accomplishments

• Take decisive actions

• Look for opportunities for self-discovery and learning “life lessons” that may benefit others

• Develop confidence that you can address the issues. Others in the social support network may assist.

• Keep things in perspective, in relation to the great challenges faced by others

• Visualize your goals and aspirations

  • Cultivate an optimistic outlook, and consider hope as essential as oxygen

• Take care of yourself with exercise, relaxation, balanced diet and lifestyle, medical attention

Additional strategies may assist: the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress

-*What are your most effective strategies for building personal resilience in the face of challenges?

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Women Get More Promotions With “Behavioral Flexibility”

More business promotions were awarded to women who display assertive, confident, and “aggressive” behaviors and who reduce these characteristics depending on the social circumstance through “self-monitoring”, according to Olivia Mandy O’Neill of George Mason University and Charles O’Reilly of Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Olivia Mandy O’Neill

Charles O’Reil

Related research findings discuss “impression management” and “self-monitoring” skills for women to mitigate the impact of subtle factors that impede career advancement.


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