Food for Thought: Bias

Food for thought is a chance for me to share with you something I have been thinking about during the week.  This is just a quick look into some of the thoughts and things I find interesting or compelling.  Enjoy!


We basically have three brains and they all come with their own biases.  The prefrontal cortex sets at the front of the brain and is is home to our cognitive processes.  The mammalian brain controls much of our behind the scenes processes and emotions like caring and nurturing.  And then there is the lizard brain, which sits inline with the base of our neck and control things like fight or flight responses.  Each one of these sections has it’s own roles and responsibilities; but they also have a sketchy side often referred to as bias.  These biases can be broadly categorized into two sets: Cognitive Bias, existing in the prefrontal cortex; and Instinctual Bias, which reside in the mammalian and reptile brain sections.

Cognitive bias, as the name implies, is found in the way we think (or in some cases don’t think) about things.  Some examples are: Mirror Imaging, I would act one way so others will act the same way; and Evidence Primacy, The first bit of information you learn sticks around as the most important.  There are hundreds more.  Some good, some bad.  Understanding when we have these biases and how to counter them is an important skill to avoiding fallacies in thinking.

Instinctual bias is a bit trickery, and honestly is something that is starting to interest me as something I want to learn more about.  Instinctual biases drive seemingly automatic responses in our physiological systems by dumping hormones into our body  based on external stimulus.  Because these are biases that are triggered at a hormonal level they are harder to control.  Is that math test stressing you out?  Part of that is due to your reptilian brain triggering a cortisol release.  Feeling deeply in love with “the wrong person”?  That is likely your mammalian brain reacting to some positive trait it sees in a potential mate and is dumping dopamine all over your brain.

These processes are, of course, interrelated which makes them difficult to study, understand, and control.  But I believe the first step is to recognize they exist and then work with your closest friends and associates to gauge when an intervention is needed to stay on track, or change course.

What are you thoughts?  I would love to hear from you.  Come on over to our closed facebook discussion group to share your insights.  Or you can email me directly at  You can also sign up to receive The Friday Huddle, a short weekly email from me that gives you the tips, insights, and musings that have gotten me through the week.

Live Skillfully


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