Overcoming Your Intuitive Bias
Try this simple arithmetic problem:
A bat and a ball cost $1.10.
The bat costs one dollar more than the ball.
How much does the ball cost?
Wasn’t your immediate answer ten cents? Wrong. Think about it. I said the problem is simple; I didn’t say it’s easy.
Over half the students at Harvard, MIT and Princeton gave the intuitive, incorrect answer, according to Thinking, Fast and Slow by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman. He says that all of us who gave the ten cents answer revealed two things about ourselves:
1. We answered without checking the arithmetic.
2. We missed an obvious social cue: why would anyone include a question with such an obvious answer in a questionnaire?
His conclusion is that many of us place too much reliance on intuition and, as much as we can, avoid thinking – and for good reason. “As we navigate our lives, we normally allow ourselves to be guided by impressions and feelings, and the confidence we have in our intuitive beliefs and preferences is usually justified. But not always.”
I find that many of my coaching clients define the challenges they face intuitively. They begin with assumptions that seem to be obviously valid – like the ten cent ball. As a coach, I help my clients to see that their intuitive assumptions are a place to start working on a challenge—not an end point.
Kahneman speculates that overcoming our intuitive bias depends less on intelligence than on overcoming automatic thinking. I see this every day. Our assumptions are not usually grounded in what we do best and do not take into account our strengths. When my clients are coached to look at the challenges they face from that vantage point, they discover new possibilities that they never considered before.
Okay, so how much did the ball cost? Five cents.
Coaching Questions to Ask Yourself: If you were to use your strengths what would you do differently? How can you build on what you do well? What assumptions do you need to challenge? If you walked around to the other side of this challenge what would it look like it?
If you would like a complimentary session to discuss how coaching might help you to discover new possibilities, you can schedule a session at the website of Dr. Lynn K. Jones.
P.S. Thanks in advance to anyone who chooses to add their comments to the discussion or wishes to forward the blog link!
Dr. Lynn K. Jones, Certified Personal and Executive Coach, BCC
Your Mojo Maven
Dr. Lynn K. Jones is a Board Certified Coach based in Santa Barbara, California and a sought after coach and consultant for organizations and individuals across the US. Her doctoral work completed at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University concerned organizational culture; she coaches, consults and trains organizations on what they need to do to create organizational cultures that are aligned with their vision and values using a process of Appreciative Inquiry. She coaches individuals on achieving their reflected best selves. Dr. Lynn K. Jones, MSW, DSW, BCC, teaches Human Behavior and Social Environment and Leadership at the USC School of Social Work Virtual Academic Center.
BCC Board Certified Coach #1487