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The Curse of Knowledge: What It Is and How to Account for It

Being an expert

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.

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The Curse of Knowledge: What It Is and How to Account for It

The Curse of Knowledge: What It Is and How to Account for It

https://effectiviology.com/curse-of-knowledge/

effectiviology.com

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Key Ideas

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. 

Why we experience the curse of knowledge

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.

Minimize the curse of knowledge

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.

Debiasing techniques

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.

Being an expert

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.

Predicting other people’s behavior

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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The bandwagon effect

It's a cognitive bias that causes people to think or act in a certain manner because they believe that other people are doing the same.

For example, the bandwagon effect might cause...

Examples of the bandwagon effect
  • The bandwagon effect can influence people’s political choices.
  • It can influence consumers’ decisions regarding which products to buy.
  • It can influence users’ decisions regarding how to rate stories or comments.
  • It can influence investors’ financial choices.
  • It can influence doctors’ medical decisions.
  • It can influence organizations’ implementation of new technologies.
Why the bandwagon effect happens

It serves as a mental shortcut that people instinctively use in order to make a decision quickly.

Specifically, bandwagon cues, which are signs that other people believe something or are doing something, can trigger the thought that “if other people like this, then I should too”.

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The Verbatim Effect

The verbatim effect is a cognitive bias that makes people remember the general outline and meaning of the information that is provided and not the exact, complete details.

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Why We Experience the Verbatim Effect

There are two main memory processes:

  • Gist Memory concentrates on the core meaning of the information.
  • Verbatim Memory focuses on the surface form or the easily visible part of the information.

The Gist Memory is encoded in a better way because it is an important part of the information, and is not apparent at first, making it desirable and thus easier to retain.

Variance in the Verbatim Effect

The Verbatim Effect varies in its influence on people and may or may not occur in situations, as it depends on several factors like:

  • The individual's preferences, abilities, and experience.
  • The type of information, along with the reason for interacting with the information. A meaningless piece of information will not have any verbatim effect on an individual.

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Theory of mind

This is a social-cognitive skill that relates to the ability to think about your own mental state and the mental states of other people.
It's called a theory because what we believe is go...

Benefits of the theory of the mind

In our daily interactions with other people, it is important to be able to understand their mental states and to think about how those mental states might influence their actions.
The theory of the mind helps us understand how people think, predict their behavior and solve interpersonal conflicts.

Stages of the Theory of mind
  1. The understanding that the reasons why people might want something may differ from one person to the next.
  2. The understanding that people can have different beliefs about the same thing or situation.
  3. The understanding that people may not comprehend or have the knowledge that something is true.
  4. The understanding that people can hold false beliefs about the world.
  5. The understanding that people can have hidden emotions, or that they may act one way while feeling another way.

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