The whole model of human cognition is interesting from the perspective of modelling something. The whole concept behind a model, be it financial, technical, structural or other forms is to represent something that exists in reality in a different way. A financial model may represent different outcomes mixing macro and micro economics to form scenarios of “what if” allowing your to play with various premises and conclusions and see the results.
The funny thing about the model of human cognition is that there are about 160 biases that behavioral economists talk about when trying to fit the model of “homo economicus” with observed behavior. Economics was always big on making conditions that would make it seem more science and less art, I suppose that has to do with the positivist and quantitative bias within the field. However, if you need a 163 exceptions in order to make your model fit, you do not have a model, you have data points that you need to find a fitting model for. Its a classic example of starting with a conclusion and finding a set of premises that work.
The premise that many behavioral economists work from when it comes to bias is that they are things our minds are prone to doing, without us paying attention to them. Sort of mental shortcuts that that we sub-consciously use in our daily lives that have limited negative effects.
The origin of bias
As an empiricist and rationalist I put my best effort into keeping my mind clear and free of bias. However I find myself wondering where some of them come from. For instance, the swimmers body illusion is mistaking a factor for the selection, in essence that a professional swimmer does not have a perfect body because they swim extensively, but they are professional swimmers because their bodies are built to make them great swimmers.
Where would such a bias in the brain have yielded a benefit for Cro Magnon man?
Humans are great at recognizing patterns, everything from the ones in nature that the ancient Greeks discovered, to the times where Jesus or the Virgin Mary makes an appearance on toast. In the movie “A Beautiful Mind” about mathematician John Forbes Nash, a man who is very good at recognizing patterns develops schizophrenia and starts seeing patterns that are not there. This is very common in humans, and is called a clustering illusion, when we see patterns that are simply not there.
I can see why this was beneficial to Neanderthal man, living in the grass plains where noticing patterns of predators and prey would keep them alive. Cognitive bias are simply not an anomaly in the normally rational brain of a human being, they are features of how our cognition works that have had evolutionary value.
Some of the more common bias that influence your life
Confirmation bias is when information is interpreted in a manner that supports our existing beliefs, theories and convictions. The best example of confirmation bias in action I can think of is the concept of “internalized racism” and “internalized patriarchy” often talked about by feminists and other social justice warriors. In this case, information going in that most women do not identify as feminists or agree with feminist theories, is interpreted in a manner that ensures that the advocates of feminist theory will never have turn a critical eye to their theories.
One could wonder why, but it is likely that it is a mix of emotional investment and a sunk cost fallacy. Now the concept of sunk costs is central in business economics, and refers to humans not wanting to give up resources that has been invested in a venture that is not going well. Rather than ending the project and shifting the resources to something more production, the unsuccessful project continues because “we have invested so much in it already. This is very common with Beta men prone to the position of orbiter, where he elects to invest time and resources in a woman, with no guarantee of payback, yet refusing to just let go when it becomes very clear that she will never put out. As he gradually invests more and more in his relationship with her, he becomes very prone to safeguarding his investment.
When he sees her date Alpha after alpha, and feels like he’s being beat down by her behavior, he becomes prone to the “it gets worse before it gets better” fallacy, where he argues to himself that his investment in her is sound, because if she gets dumped by enough Alphas then she will finally see what a great guy he is, and if she keeps dating them, it confirms his prediction that she needs to be dumped by more alphas. So, after seeing this happen for another couple of years, this guy gets pissed off and he stops investing in the woman, he cuts down on their contact massively and as a result they lose touch. At first he is pissed off at himself, his decision to not invest in her anymore means that his unicorn is now out of his life. The hindsight bias is the tendency humans have to judge decisions based on their outcomes, rather than the process of making the decision.
So, rather than evaluating why he made a string of bad decisions that lead him to orbit the woman, he blames himself for not doing it anymore. So how did he end up in such a shitty situation?
First, he probably fell victim to the one or more of the cheerleading bias, where the woman appeared more attractive in a group, he may have ignored the base rate of how many hot/interesting/sexy or whatever women there are in his surroundings, and thus experienced a scarcity bias, where he feels like this woman is a rare unicorn among horses. Once he has established a friendship with her, he may fall prone to an illusion of control, where he thinks he has greater influence over her than in reality. As he observes her banging more and more alpha bad boys in front of him, he experiences the ostrich effect, where he ignores an obviously bad situation for him. He now interprets everything she does through the lens of selective perception, and thus everything she does is interpreted through his selective perception that she also wants them to be together despite acting very differently.
He is also interpreting the revolving door of alphas as social proof that the woman is of high value, rather than just making herself available, thus confirming his analysis of her as a unicorn. Yet, because he still expects the outcome to favor him, he avoids taking the loss just yet.
Are there red pill unique bias?
From my perspective, I think most of the bias that men experience with women tend to be variants of existing bias. However, for the sake of clarity, I’ll cover some of the biases that I’ve seen wreck havoc on men in their relationships with women.
The Unicorn effect is when men perceive a woman as being unique to her gender. Its usually a mixture of multiple biases, but it results in what the community refers to as “oneitis”. As a result of seeing a woman as uniquely valued, the man invests in her, ignoring other options, and especially avoiding comparisons to other women. If he engages in comparison of his unicorn with other women, it is done in a light that confirms his valuation. Any behavior she engages in is interpreted from the perspective of her embodying the good qualities he is looking for.
The unicorn effect is related to the fundamentally good fallacy and in some cases a contrast effect. The fundamentally good fallacy in this case, results in a psychological frame wherein the man interprets all the woman’s actions from a perspective of her being the Virgin Mary. She can ignore him, knowingly hurt him, engage in behavior he would normally class as reprehensible, and many other things, and it will not alter his perception of her.
The innocence and nativity bias is when a man interprets a woman behavior to stem from innocence or nativity rather than ill intent, and is related to the unicorn effect. In this case, the man can see that the woman is engaging in behavior or has attitudes that he strongly disagrees with or that hurt him, yet rather than attribute them to malice or personality flaws, he attributes them to the woman being innocent or naive.
Summary and conclusions
Bias are with us, and we are not perfect logic machines that have perfect information at all times, thus it follows that we will experience situations where our minds deceive us. These functions have probably served a purpose during our evolution, by giving us a survival advantage, however in the modern world that constantly load men up with more consequences and seek to take them away from women, risk must be monitored.
If you find yourself falling in love, or being stuck on a single woman, you are probably falling victim to a perfect storm of bias that is preventing you from seeing fundamental reality, which as I’ve spoken of before should always be the goal. In a sense, your perceptions and dreams are guiding you, rather than staunch reason and detail-oriented empiricism.