The Pulse

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We do everything in our power to set ourselves up for success. We work hard, weigh the risks and make calculated decisions. But do we approach our biggest challenges with a sense of clarity?


No, says Julia Galef, president and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality in Berkeley, Calif. Too often we get caught up in what she calls the Commitment Effect – the irrational insistence we stick with something despite it not working in our favor. There are a slew of reasons we do this, including the fear of the unknown and our own personal pride.


Just the act of publicly defending a position makes you more apt to stick with it, good or bad. So if you’ve fought hard to lead your company on a directive, or spent hours pleading your case at the front of a boardroom, you’re more likely to go down with the sinking ship even if you don’t realize it at the time.


In this Big Think video, Galef shares a valuable method to overcome the Commitment Effect, along with a real-world example of how this line of thinking paid off for one of the world’s most successful tech companies.


However, it is worth noting this type of cognitive bias can also be used in our favor. Marketers love testimonial-type contests where consumers put their love of a product in print not only because others will be influenced by the words, but because it boosts loyalty with the writer as well. The simple task of turning thoughts into the written word can earn a company a life-long fan.


To learn more about the Commitment Effect, watch the video Rationality in Action.

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