In previous articles, we talked about the complexity of happiness due to the presence of two selves that take into account different elements to assess the degree of happiness in our life. To this, we must add the frequent errors in present thought in the nature of our mind.
The amount of cognitive biases that human beings commit in our day to day life is well known and developed by psychologists such as Dan Ariely and Daniel Kahneman due to the limitation of three of our cognitive processes: attention, perception, and memory.
However, the bias that most humans make when thinking about our happiness is a cognitive error known as the illusion of focus.
What Is The Illusion Of Focus?
In his research on happiness, Kahneman adds this bias as a distorting element of our perception of reality, which leads us to assess our level of satisfaction with life based on the most accessible information in the present moment.
It is a cognitive bias or error in human thinking that consists in the distortion of the importance that an aspect can have on our happiness at the moment in which we are thinking about it. In other words, it is the unfortunate fact that we can not think of any circumstance that affects welfare without distorting its importance.
The Experiment Of The Order Of The Questions
A well-known experiment in which this bias is shined and the distortion of our judgments are elaborated before specific information is the one in which students are asked to evaluate. Next, they are asked about how many appointments they have had in the last month. The correlation between the score of these questions is negligible (0.012). The questions are answered independently.
However, if we reverse your order and ask first for appointments and then for happiness, the correlation increases to 0.66. One question influences the other. The order of the questions are affected your response. A cognitive distortion based on the change of focus.
Through this experiment, the influence of the illusion of focus is reflected, which according to Kahneman, can be described with the following phrase: “nothing in life is as important as we think when we think of it”.
As much as it weighs on us, this mechanism of thought influences all aspects of our lives and leads us to act in a way that may not come close to what really makes us happy.That’s why, on many occasions, we overestimate the importance of buying a car, join a gym, start a relationship, invest in a new business, adopt a dog. And, it is a way in which it will increase our level of well-being when, in reality, we can be victims of this cognitive bias.
If we can get something out of this finding from our psyche, it’s that nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you’re thinking about it. Human welfare always depends on the illusion of its focus.