Have you ever made a decision, only to find yourself rationalizing it afterward? This phenomenon, known as choice-supportive bias, is a cognitive bias that affects our perceptions of our choices. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what choice-supportive bias is, how it works, and how it can affect our decision-making processes.
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What is Choice Supportive Bias?
Choice-supportive bias, also known as post-purchase rationalization, is a cognitive bias that causes us to view our choices as more positive after we have made them. This bias can manifest in a number of ways, such as seeing the chosen option as more attractive or desirable than it actually is, or downplaying the qualities of the options we did not choose.
This bias is particularly strong when the decision is important or has significant consequences, such as choosing a job or a partner. It can also be more pronounced when the decision is difficult, as we tend to justify our choices more strongly when we feel that we had to weigh multiple options.
How Does Choice Supportive Bias Work?
Choice-supportive bias works by affecting our memory of the decision-making process. When we remember our decisions, we tend to focus on the positive aspects of the option we chose and the negative aspects of the options we did not choose. This can create a distorted perception of our choices, making the chosen option appear more favorable in retrospect.
The bias is also driven by our desire to reduce cognitive dissonance, which is the discomfort we feel when we hold two conflicting beliefs or values. When we make a decision, we may experience cognitive dissonance if we feel that we have made the wrong choice. To reduce this discomfort, we may unconsciously reinterpret the decision to make it seem like the right choice.
Examples of Choice Supportive Bias
Choice-supportive bias can be observed in many different contexts. For example, imagine you’re considering two cars to purchase. You ultimately choose Car A, but after the purchase, you start to notice flaws in the car. However, instead of feeling regretful, you may start to rationalize your decision, saying things like “Well, at least it gets good gas mileage” or “It was a good deal.”
Similarly, this bias can also be seen in political decision-making. After an election, people who voted for the winning candidate may see them as more competent and effective than they actually are, while those who voted for the losing candidate may see them as less competent and effective.
How to Overcome Choice-Supportive Bias
While it may be difficult to completely overcome choice-supportive bias, there are some strategies that can help reduce its impact. One such strategy is to seek out diverse perspectives and information before making a decision, as this can help prevent us from becoming too invested in a particular option.
Another strategy is to engage in self-reflection and examine our motivations and biases. By being aware of our tendency to justify our choices, we can take steps to counteract it and make more objective decisions.
Choice-supportive bias is a powerful cognitive bias that can affect our decision-making processes and perceptions of our choices. By understanding how this bias works and taking steps to mitigate its impact, we can make more informed and objective decisions that are based on our true values and priorities.