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Against Wrong Conclusions - the Most Unfair Fallacy of our Brain

Do you know that? Someone's behavior surprises or bothers us. And we know immediately where it comes from. The other's personality is the reason. Stop! Is it really true? Often, situation, circumstances, daily form, or simply luck are much better explanations for the behavior of the other. Our brain ist thinking fast and makes its judgment quickly. In this case, the so-called fundamental attribution error - one of the most common fallacies in human thinking. We tend to overestimate the influence of the person and underestimate the situation. There are 3 good strategies to avoid it:

  1. Compare with other situations: Check whether your generalization is really true or whether it is an exception in the behavior of the other.
  2. Compare with the requirement: Consider what the goal of behavior is and how others could have made the person reaction like they did.
  3. Compare with yourself: Take perspective and consider how you would have reacted in this situation and how you would explain that behavior yourself.

With ourselves, we tend to argue situationally more and way less with traits. Sometimes this makes us paint our world like we want to see - just like Pippi Longstrump. Often, it is better to not leave (fast) thinking to the brain alone. Conscious awareness avoids misunderstandings, promotes healthy respect and humility, and makes the world a bit warmer and better. To good new year's resolutions. Good luck!

Read more about the self-constructed world:
Griffin, R., Bless, H., Fiedler, K. (2018): Social Cognition. Routledge.
Kahnemann, D. (2011). Thinking, Fast and Slow. Farar, Straus & Giroux.
If you like science more popularly written, here is a good summary and repetition:
Dobelli, R. (2011): Die Kunst des Klaren Denkens (German). Hanser.

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