I bet you can remember several conversations where you were talking about something and you nodded and said ‘yes, yes’ and the other as well nodded and said ‘yes, of course’, only to find out a few minutes later you were not at all talking about the same thing.
This is a cognitive bias where we mistakenly assume that what is clear in our head is also clear in the head of whom we are talking to. But we probably forgot to share some key pieces of information to build understanding.
This phenomenon can lead to misunderstanding and even conflict.
I am intrigued with cognitive biases. They mess with our thinking and we don’t realize it…. unless we become conscious of them.
The above-described cognitive bias is called the Curse of Knowledge.
The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that leads better-informed parties to find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed parties. The effect was first described in print by the economists Colin Camerer, George Loewenstein and Martin Weber, though they give original credit for suggesting the term to Robin Hogarth.
In one experiment, one group of subjects “tapped” a well-known song on a table while another listened and tried to identify the song. Some “tappers” described a rich sensory experience in their minds as they tapped out the melody. Tappers on average estimated that 50% of listeners would identify the specific tune; in reality only 2.5% of listeners could identify the song.
Another experiment, describe the featured picture to your colleague and then show the picture. I bet it looks very different than the image he had build in her or his head.
Implications: biases sometimes trip us up, leading to poor decisions and bad judgments.
By simply being aware of the existence of the Curse of Knowledge, you can avoid being trapped. Better be clear than cursed! : )
Picture from TheStocks