Confirmation bias: An obstacle to being open-minded

Confirmation bias is a major hurdle to being open-minded: We seek information supporting our current views and beliefs.

We can overcome this bias by being aware of it. We can take steps to work against it by actively pursuing information and perspectives that contradict our current position.

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How to foster ‘shoshin’ | Psyche Guides

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Shunryu Suzuki

"In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few."

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Shoshin: The beginner's mind

Shoshin is the Japanese Zen term for a "beginner's mind' and refers to a paradox: The more knowledge you have on a subject, the more likely you are to close your mind to further learning.

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Most of us overestimate our understanding of various subjects, known as the 'illusions of explanatory depth.' When you make an effort to explain a relevant issue or topic to yourself or someone else in detail, it will reveal the gaps in your knowledge and expose the illusion of expertise.

This exercise can be simplified by spending a few seconds reflecting on your ability to explain a given issue to a real expert in a step-by-step manner.

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  • Having an academic degree in a subject can lead people to overestimate their knowledge. Studies showed that graduate participants frequently overestimated their level of understanding.
  • Even feeling like an expert also breeds closed-mindedness. Research also showed that giving people the impression that they were relatively expert on a topic led them to be less willing to consider other viewpoints.

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Deliberately invoking the emotion of awe quietens the ego. It also creates a greater willingness to look at things differently while recognizing the gaps in one's knowledge.

Invoking the emotions of awe and wonder, such as looking at the aurora borealis, also reduces the need to be satisfied by closed arguments.

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If we see intelligence and aptitudes as pliable rather than fixed, we can learn better.

A series of studies showed that intellectually humble people also tended to have a growth mindset. If you see intelligence as something you can develop, then finding holes in your knowledge opens up new opportunities for education.

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Intellectually humble people know more because they are open to new information and more willing to be receptive to other people's perspectives.

Approaching issues with a beginner's mind or intellectual humility can help you become more knowledgeable, less overconfident, and more willing to engage with others.

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Having An Open Mind

Being open-minded is a quality that makes us receptive to a diverse range of ideas, arguments and perspectives that may not align with our own.

If we are not open-minded, we may not be able to think critically or rationally in any given situation, making us unable to see all aspects of a problem and to come up with a balanced solution.

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How to Become More Open-Minded

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The Dunning-Kruger effect

It's a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. Inexperience masquerades as expertise. And we tend to see it in other people, but we don’t see it in ourselves.

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Intellectual humility: the importance of knowing you might be wrong

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Benefits of thinking like a detective

Clear thinking is essential for every aspect of life, yet many of us have not really learnt how to think and make safe judgments under pressure.

When you learn to think like a detective, you can gain an advantage in the following areas:

  • It can help you think sharper and more creative.
  • It can make you a better listener that is less judgmental.
  • It can help you solve everyday problems.

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How to think like a detective | Psyche Guides

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