Do you see yourself as ethical and impartial? Like someone who makes fair and rational decisions? You’re not alone. But the truth is your brain ...

5 biases you must avoid – and how

Do you see yourself as ethical and impartial? Like someone who makes fair and rational decisions? You’re not alone. But the truth is your brain plays tricks on you, which affects your opinions and decisions more than you realise. Here are the biases you must be aware of and avoid to create successful content marketing.          

You tend to choose the comfortable rather than the uncomfortable. The familiar rather than the unfamiliar.

If you’re not cautious about your brain’s biases, you risk getting stuck in behaviours and ways of thinking that are founded in prejudice and old habit.

You continue doing the same things and fall behind. This, in turn, affects your company culture, business decisions, employer branding – and most of all, your communication.

You can’t afford these mental mistakes because they make you less strategically smart, and quite frankly, one-sided. Here is how the biases affect you.

Your brain takes mental shortcuts

When you’re facing a problem or a decision, you rely on previous performances and solutions that have worked well in the past. Your brain is simply lazy! This, however, makes it more difficult for you to see alternative solutions and new ideas, and you make fast (irrational) decisions.

One example is the availability heuristic – the tendency to judge things and their probability based on how accessible they are in your memory. The more you know about something, the more important you perceive it to be. And the easier it is for you to remember the outcomes of something, the greater you appreciate the consequences.

Your thoughts are controlled by unconscious biases

Your prejudices affect how you perceive people, as well as your attitude and behaviour towards them. They also affect which aspects you pay attention to and which you ignore, who you listen to actively and who you empathise with in certain situations.

One such bias is of course stereotyping, that you make assumptions about people based on the attributes and group affiliations that your brain assigns them. But other equally common thinking errors are confirmation bias and the bandwagon effect.

The first bias means you unconsciously look for information that strengthens the opinion you already have, and sift out information that goes against your opinions. The second bias is about the tendency to embrace a behaviour or an attitude just because others are doing it. The more people who share an opinion or an idea, the more you tend to agree.

Handpicked related content: Why content marketing works.

Your brain wants to assign blame – and protect your ego.

If something negative happens, we want to find someone or something to blame. Sometimes, this means we don’t take responsibility for our own actions. When bad things occur, your brain blames factors outside of your control, but when something good happens, it’s because of your efforts, your competence, or who you are as a person.

One example is blind spot bias, which makes it hard for you to see your own flaws. You tend to see yourself as less partial than others – maybe you think you’re more rational and fair than your colleagues. 

Your brain can be blind for change.

It’s impossible to take in all the impressions around you, and sometimes that results in you missing some major changes, even those that are right in front of you.

When you focus on something, your brain sifts out large amounts of information. The same goes for your expectations. If you have a certain image of a person or an event, you may become blind to potential changes. This phenomenon is called change blindness.

Test your own attention! Watch the video below and follow the instructions:

Besides, your memory is not as good as you think.

The fact is your memory is fragile, susceptible to outside influence and sometimes incorrect. Something that you’re entirely certain of could be a mental flaw, which is based on the fact that your brain has simply forgotten or distorted the information.     

Keep an eye on your perspective

As marketers, we have a responsibility to represent the world as it is – and sometimes the way we want it to be. Working consciously and critically is essential for companies that want to build trust with their clients and attract new talents.

To succeed, you need to be both self-aware and courageous. You must challenge yourself and find new ways to embrace more perspectives.

It’s impossible to avoid all the brain’s tricks. But one first step is to become aware of the cognitive biases that our brain exposes us to.

Checklist – how to avoid biases  

Do you know exactly what you think or does your team often agree with each other? It could be comfortable, but it’s not always an advantage. Here are a few tips on how to avoid biases.

  • Create awareness around biases within yourself and your colleagues. Discuss openly and remind each other.
  • Build inclusive teams with people who hold different perspectives.
  • Create processes to capture different thoughts, ideas, and feedback.
  • Instead of looking for information that confirms your opinion, be active and do the opposite. For instance, before you make a decision.
  • Make questioning yourself and others into a habit. Uncomfortable is good.
  • Practice to challenge yourself by surrounding yourself with people who think differently, not only like-minded people.
  • Use both quantitative and qualitative data, for example through the research method Thick Data.