The Echoes of the Mind (90-2) Accentuate the Positive

Accentuate the Positive

Willingness to base conclusions on incomplete or unrepresentative information is a common cause of people’s questionable and erroneous beliefs. ~ Thomas Gilovich

Many beliefs are formed upon affirmative association between 2 variables. Repeated coincidences confirm suspicions. A belief is born.

The issue of proof via sufficient evidence is seldom worried over. Anecdotes are enough to suggest that there is a link between 2 things. That we successfully learned as children new words from sparse examples reinforces our comfort with links that lack statistical foundation.

The common belief that we are more likely to need something once we have thrown it away is surely nonsensical, even as it is easy to think of times when it has been true.

The habit of letting a few instances serve as proof shows how people are comfortable with statistically inadequate thresholds to establish their beliefs. Sample-size and data-set quality are abstractions in light of experience that typically offers only a finite number of examples upon which to form a belief.

It is the peculiar and perpetual error of the human understanding to be more moved and excited by affirmatives than negatives. ~ Francis Bacon

Information which confirms is more easily assimilated than information that does not. Put conversely: information that fails to confirm is not nearly as easily assimilated as information which does.

The previous 2 sentences made the same statement. The first was easier to comprehend because it was positive.

It is easier to understand “humans are emotional” than “non-humans are not emotional.” This shows that confirmatory information is more influential than disconfirmations framed as negations.

Placing greater value on positive instances makes it easier to make associations that are not there. This is furthered by the tendency to focus on seeking confirmation of a hypothesis: favoring confirmation over information which overturns a budding belief.

The framing of a relationship affects judgment. If evaluating similarity, dissimilarities are ignored and vice versa.

Confirmation bias works in the instant milieu to produce an answer that affirms. Because of confirmation bias and the influence of affect, balanced evaluation which yields an accurate correlation is an arduous task.

Confirmation bias is a powerful and all-too-human tendency. ~ American psychologist Robert Johnson et al