You are not so smart

You're not so smart - woman sat in a library reading a book

David McRaney in his book ‘You are not so smart’ describes 48 ways that your memory and brain is mostly fiction and the way we are all deluded on a regular basis.

This work builds upon the Nobel Prize winning work of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky where they showed how we don’t tend to make rational decisions. This research has given rise to a whole field of behavioural economics. Here are 3 examples from the book:

# 1 The fundamental attribution error

THE MISCONCEPTION: Other people’s behavior is the reflection of their personality.
THE TRUTH: Other people’s behavior is more the result of the situation than their disposition.

This means that it is possible to change the way people behave by re-shaping the situation and environment. In fact, it’s likely to be more helpful.

# 2 Learned helplessness

THE MISCONCEPTION: If you are in a bad situation you will do whatever you can do to escape it.
THE TRUTH: If you feel like you aren’t in control of your destiny, you will give up and accept whatever situation you are in.

This means that by enabling people to own their day-to-day way of working and give control as to how they organize their work, you are more likely to see positive results.

# 3 Confirmation bias

THE MISCONCEPTION: Your opinions are the result of years of rational, objective analysis.
THE TRUTH: Your opinions are the result of years of paying attention to information that confirmed what you believed while ignoring information that challenged your preconceived notions.

This means that most people believe what they’re doing is right and to challenge a way of working requires repeated evidence that individuals can touch, see and smell themselves. In a journey of change, this is important to remember.

These and the 45 others are at play all the time.


Consider these three misconceptions this week and see if you can use the knowledge to make a positive change in your work environment.