Why Does it Matter?

Why Does it Matter?

Hopefully after going through the previous lessons you have a general understanding of some of the biases we’ve covered.  In review, here’s a summary of the information so far:

Lesson 1: What’s going on in our brains? 

We all put ourselves into in-groups, and others into out-groups, and we are susceptible to a number of cognitive biases that are psychological processes and difficult to avoid.  There are many reasons for this.  Some are related to evolutionary psychology while some are related to identity and psychological development.  The bottom line is: we all do it, and biases happen on a daily basis.   There are ways we can combat these psychological processes, such as education, preventing the spread of misinformation, and generally becoming more informed about other people, other groups, and other cultures.

Lesson 2: “He’s the same as ‘them’…” – Implicit Association

We discard the specifics to form generalities, and we form those generalities based on a cognitive bias that is based on our implicit “understanding” or beliefs about a particular person and/or group.  We see bunnies as bunnies, who can only do what bunnies do, and other animals do what they do. 

Lesson 3: “They ARE all the same” – Outgroup homogeneity

Beyond the implicit associations we make, when putting individuals into a particular group, we also judge the out-group in a certain way.  This cognitive bias describes how the out-group is “the same,” while members of the ingroup are more unique.

Lesson 4: “That Can’t be True” – Confirmation Bias

Information isn’t simply information we process it in certain ways based on our previously existing biases.  Sometimes we use our “heads” and think rationally, and sometimes we judge with our “emotions” and look at things based on how we feel about a particular topic or group previously.


Phew… That’s a lot.  Here’s a broader summary, then one last video to take us to the conclusion of this self-guided learning course:

The previous lessons, summarized from the cognitive bias codex fall into three main categories.  First, we discard specifics to form generalities (implicit association); Second, we imagine things and people we’re familiar with and fond of as better (out-group homogeneity bias); and Third, we are drawn to details that confirm our existing beliefs (confirmation bias). 

When you put all of these things together, we start to realize that cognitive bias momentum (our term, not backed up by research or studies) plays a large role in the biases we have and judgments we make.  We put people in boxes, favor those groups that are fond of, and disregard new information as we get it, unless it already fits with our existing beliefs and views.

When summarizing all of the previous lessons, we begin to approach an answer to the “why does it matter” question.  Unless we live in a world where everyone is the same, in every way possible, there will always be outgroups of some sort or another.  This leads to biases and negative judgements, which leads to the conflicts we’re seeing so much of in our nation and around the world.

And that’s why this all matters. 

Our country is more polarized than ever, and people aren’t even having conversations anymore.. 

Biases happen to all of us.  We’re all susceptible to them.  The course started with the following statement:

The psychology of in-groups and out-groups is well-studied, well-ingrained, and unfortunately often (if not always) unavoidable. 

But we don’t have to stop there.  The real question is: how do we deal with it? 

How do we see each other, and how do we see each-“other”? 

How do we think about each other, and how do we think about each-“other”?

Finally, we can learn to think differently about each and every other, to hopefully lead us to a place where we can all have healthy disagreements that don’t lead to unsolvable protracted conflict?