Why we make mistakes: frame of mind, skimming, tidiness

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, I’m  excerpting  the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books 2009

Man making mistake

Today, we add reasons 6, 7 and 8 to the list.

* * * * * *

The errors we make can be explained through 13 lessons:

1. We look but don’t always see.

2. We all search for meaning.

3. We connect the dots.

4. We wear rose-colored glasses.

5. We can walk and chew gum — but not much else.

* * * * *

6. We’re in the wrong frame of mind.

How we frame an issue can greatly affect our response to it.

In situations where we expect a loss, we are prone to take risks. However, when we are considering gains, we become more conservative; we simply want to hold on to a sure thing. This pattern seems to stem, in part, from the human approach to risk perception.

Many factors can affect the way we frame our decisions. One of the least obvious factors is time. When the consequences of our decisions are far off, we are prone to take bigger gambles. However, when consequences are more immediate, we become more conservative.

7. We skim.

We rely on context to guide our perception of everyday events. The better we are at something, the more likely we are to skim.

However, this ability comes with a trade-off: Accuracy is sacrificed, and details are overlooked. As something becomes familiar, we tend to notice less.

We see things not as they are, but as we assume they ought to be. This ingrained behavior can cause us to overlook not only small things, but some things that are startlingly large.

8. We like things tidy.

The process of retelling a story in our own narrative style places certain constraints on what we recall, and these constraints guide our reconstruction of events.

If we tell a story in a funny way, for example, we’re likely to leave out certain details or maybe even add a few of our own making. In this process, a story doesn’t simply become a vision of the original event, it becomes the event; it is the way we remember it.

* * * * *

Next up: Men shoot first …

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