Now, Nobel Prize winner Danial Kahneman found around 150 cognitive biases. And one is nasty, it’s called the confirmatory bias. It has a couple of dimensions. For example, if someone says to you with a positive demeanour, “Is Jack Friendly?” Now, because his demeanour is of a positive nature, and he asked a positive question; your subconscious mind does a quick search to confirm the question.
It quickly confirms a hit, then reports back to your neocortex the results. Now without further deliberation (more questions) from the neocortex you say impulsively: yes, Jack’s friendly, he’s pretty awesome. All positive and all good, awesome!
However, lets now change the context and go one more time! The same person asks with a negative tone and facial gesture, “Hey, Is Jack, unfriendly?” Now, your subconscious mind is primed with negative energy because of the negative tone and gestures from the other person. Your subconscious searches with two biases, negative bias and confirmatory bias.
So, if your subconscious mind finds a hit, even though Jack may have only been unfriendly a few times the entire time you’ve know him; and, never directed towards you. Your impulsive response is: “Yeah, sometimes he can be unfriendly.”
What just happened? Well, you’ve basically been asked the same question. However, because your subconscious mind is quick, and you’ve been primed with two biases, you just created a negative ripple in your life.
In both questions, you answered what the other person wanted to hear, quickly and impulsively without neocortex screening. It just felt right, because you were influenced by those biases. Either context, positive or negative; you were blind to what was going on. Don’t worry; I’ve been there but, knowledge is power; please use it.
Worst case scenario is (in the negative context, that is), you and the other person bitch about Jack; and it gets back to him. Which can turn into a tsunami of negative emotion for you. You can lose jack as a friend, and be seen as a person who talks behind another’s back, and worse.
That’s how powerful this bias is, but it gets worse because this works on you, if you shit talk yourself that is. If you decide to think negative thoughts, primed by something in your environment, even by your dream; we can be primed by our dreams and many more things.
So, if you think negative thoughts like; I’m a failure, I’m an idiot; I cannot believe I did that, your subconscious mind does a quick search to confirm those thoughts. It will look for events where you last felt that way. More than likely it’s going to find them, right.
And then you’ll be feeling how you were just thinking. The result, you will feel bad, homeostasis is out, and we go reaching for vices to makes us feel better.
Humans are the only life forms on the planet that can make ourselves feel like shit AND lower our self-esteem by negative self-talk.
Here is an excerpt from Timothy Wilson, PHd, that I discuss in this video.
At the beginning of the school year, they administered a test to all the students in an elementary school and told the teachers that some of the students had scored so well that they were sure to “bloom” academically. In fact this was not true: the students identified as “bloomers” had been chosen randomly by the researchers. Neither the students nor their parents were told anything about the results of the test. The “bloomers” differed from their peers only in the minds of the teachers.
When researchers tested all the children again at the end of the year with an actual I.Q. test, the students who had been labeled as bloomers showed significantly higher gains in their I.Q. scores than the other students did. The teachers had treated the bloomers differently, in such a way that made their expectations come true. The teachers’ expectations about their students were conscious, but the way in which they treated their students was unconscious. When the teachers expected their students to do well, so they unknowingly gave them more personal attention, challenged them more, and gave them better feedback on their work.