The curse of knowledge

... is a cognitive bias that causes people to fail to account for the fact that others don’t know the same things that they do. 

@valentinawdd39

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Communication

Since we spend the majority of the time experiencing things from our own perspective, we struggle to imagine the perspective of others.

The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that makes it difficult for people to account for the fact that other people’s thoughts, beliefs, and views are different from their own.

You need to be conscious of the fact that people have different levels of knowledge than you.

  • Ask for feedback from the people you are communicating with, in order to confirm that they understand what you are saying.
  • Make sure that you explain the technical terms and concepts that you use as you are using it.

Use various debiasing techniques in order to help you account for the influence of the curse of knowledge.

  • Visualize the perspective of the people that you are communicating with or use self-distancing language.
  • You could also slow down your reasoning process and improve your decision-making environment, which will enable you to think in a clearer, less-biased manner.

The curse of knowledge is about the difficulty in communication that people have when they know something that others don’t, and not just about the difficulty experts have.

This bias can play a role in any situation where one person recognizes something that other people don’t, and then account for it accordingly.

Having an understanding of how the curse of knowledge affects people’s thinking can help you anticipate their behavior more accurately.

If you are aware that someone else is more knowledgeable in a certain field than others, you can take this into account when predicting how they will behave. 

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  • Slow down your reasoning process. Let some time pass between the point at which you encounter social cues and the point at which you make a final decision on something.
  • Set up optimal conditions for decision making. Choose to only make a certain decision when you’re by yourself.
  • Consider alternative options. Think about alternative options that you can choose beyond the one that is adopted by the majority.

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IDEAS

It occurs primarily due to the fact that we tend to naturally examine and remember events primarily through our personal point of view.

Even when we realize that we should adjust our perspective to see things through other people’s eyes, we tend to anchor this new perspective to our own, and we often fail to adjust from our original viewpoint enough to properly assess how other people feel.

Examples of the zero-sum bias
  • People sometimes view membership in social groups as being zero-sum: belonging to one social group excludes you from being a member of a different group.
  • People sometimes view gender hierarchies in the workplace as being zero-sum, which can cause them to be more opposed to gender-fair policies.
  • People sometimes believe that there is an inherent zero-sum competition between different ethnic groups, which can cause them to develop negative attitudes towards immigrants.
  • People sometimes view racism as a zero-sum game, meaning that they believe that a decrease in racism against one group will be balanced by an increase in racism toward other groups.

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