We Learn Faster When We Aren’t Told What Choices to Make
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In a perfect world, we would use both success and failure as instructive lessons. But our brain doesn't learn that way. It learns more from some experiences than others.
Confirmation bias makes us prefer outcomes that we agree with, and a positivity bias causes us to focus on rewards more than punishments. New studies get to the bottom of these biases to find a role for choice.
A study found that choice had an apparent influence on decision-making. In the studies subjects learned more when they had a free choice and when the choice gave a higher reward.
However, when participants were forced to select a specific choice, they were less invested in the outcomes, similar to a child mindlessly practicing to please a parent.
When people can make a free choice, they embrace positive or negative outcomes that confirm they were right.
Studies show that this tendency persists in both poor and rich conditions. This means the brain is primed to learn with a bias linked to our freely chosen actions. The brain learns differently and more quickly from free choices than forced ones.
An individual's perception of control in a situation influences how they learn from their experiences.
This is a useful mechanism for teaching us about the world that unbiased learning cannot do. It could also explain delusional thinking, where it is difficult to sway someone from a false belief with contrary evidence
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A lot of problems would disappear if we talked to each other more than talking about each other.
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