7 Cognitive Distortions That Affect Your Choice

We think that all our decisions are rational. However, there are some cognitive distortions that may influence our choice.

Cognitive Distortions: What Affects Your Choice?

Every day we make choices: to write an essay now or postpone it for later, to eat healthy food or have a cheat day. It seems to us that we make decisions absolutely rationally. However, we do not think which processes in our brain cause this or that choice. Often, some patterns of thinking make people act misguidedly and sometimes silly. How cognitive distortions affect our freedom to choose? You will get to know these things in the material of I will write your paper instantly.

Why Is It So Difficult to Make a Choice?

The most proper definition of our right select one of few options is “a pure representation of one’s willpower.” We choose everything suitable for us to make our lives as we want if there are enough resources. However, the possession of a great number of choices is more a curse than a luck. You can scroll the page of an online store for hours, and do not choose anything. The reason for the delay in choosing is the fright of making a mistake, taking the worst option from a large number of choices.

Practical Studies

When you finally stop at something, it seems to you that this product is really good – you spent so much time searching for it. “The Art of Choice” by Sheena Iyengar describes this situation. In the experiment, two groups of buyers had to choose a can of jam. One group had 24 flavors and another one – 6. As a result, the percentage of visitors, who took the desired action in the group with fewer choices 10 times higher than in the other group.

Cognitive Distortions

Temporary restrictions and cognitive distortions also play a valuable role in making choice. Sometimes they make the final choice irrational. Here are some “bugs” of thinking to be aware of.

1. Player’s mistake

Surely, at college, during the finals, you were surprised that you had to select option B in several tasks and began to doubt the correctness of your judgments. The player’s mistake is related to the fact that a person, as a rule, does not intuitively realize that the probability of the desired outcome does not depend on the previous outcome of a random event.

2. Neglect of probability

The inability of a person to correctly assess risks is called the neglect of probability. A few people are afraid of driving a car. However, many people become nervous even by the thought of flying. According to statistics, car accidents take much more lives: different sources determine the chances of dying in a car accident as 1 to 84, and the probability of death in a plane crash is 1 to 5,000 or even 1 to 20,000. Yet many people prefer cars to airplanes.


3. The effect of the current moment

The effect of the current moment exists because it is difficult for us to imagine the future. We cannot correctly predict the further development of events, adequately underestimate our expectations and correct behavior. We are okay with the immediate pleasure. Therefore, we are much more likely to spend money than to save them. Especially if the stores promise crazy discounts. In 1998, American scientists conducted a study “Predicting Hunger: The Effects of Appetite and Delay on Choice.” Participants of the study were offered a choice between fruit and chocolate, which they would receive the next week. First two-thirds of the participants chose fruit. However, when the day for food came, the participants used the opportunity to change their choice and took chocolate (70%).

4. Stockholm Buyer’s syndrome

“Money is not important, we live once!” How many times have you tried to convince yourself in this after buying an expensive or unnecessary thing? This is Stockholm syndrome of the buyer. Acquiring something unnecessary, we create a conflict between the desired and the real. Seeking excuses for your deed, the brain tries to avoid cognitive dissonance and rationalizes the purchase. Thus, you start to think that you always wanted this thing and that you did right buying it.

5. The phenomenon of Baader-Meinhof

If you notice that everyone started to ride blue Dodges, drink cherry smoothies and listen to your favorite song, you are most likely mistaken. You just included these things or ideas within your perception. In psychology, selective perception is called the phenomenon of Baader-Meinhof. The term was invented in 1994 by one of the commentators of the St. Paul Pioneer Press forum. During the day, he heard the names of the same ultra-left German terrorists and decided that a conspiracy was brewing. Later this phenomenon was investigated by Stanford professor Arnold Zwicky.

6. The effect of joining

Even if you declare yourself a non-conformist and claim that you despise society, it is still not true. The human is a social being. So sooner or later the majority will affect your choice even if it consists of nonconformists like you. The effect of joining the majority means that people tend to do certain things because other people do this, regardless of their own convictions. Hence, we have the economic demand for certain goods and services, the agenda, traditions, and customs, as well as the results of elections in democratic societies.

7. The binding effect

If you see in the menu a $10 burger and $25 for a special dish, most likely, the price of a burger will seem adequate to you. “Everything is known in comparison” – this is also a self-deception, and to be precise – the effect of binding. We select any information and compare everything with it. For example, the sale price with the old price of the goods. We usually do not take into account the prime cost of a thing.

This all is in the human nature and there are a lot of scientific experiments, which prove this point. However, we all need to make choices, so be aware of what may affect this process.