Little lessons in logic

We don’t always think as well as we think we do.

We like to think of ourselves as rational, open-minded, and thoughtful decision-makers, but even the most logical of us are susceptible to cognitive biases. These thinking errors cause us to assign too much importance to trivial things and not enough to what really matters.

Cognitive biases can significantly affect our content creation process if we’re not aware of our faulty thinking. They can cause us to frame content goals incorrectly, leading us to ideate, plan, create, and execute social media content that fails to generate engagement.

So let’s be honest about our faulty thinking.

Remember reading Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain? In a brilliant display of persuasion, Tom cons his friends into whitewashing Aunt Polly’s fence by describing the chore as a fun privilege. This is a literary example of the framing bias, the observation that the manner in which data is presented can affect decision making.

Closely related to the framing bias is the anchoring bias, which is the “inability to make appropriate adjustments from a starting point in response to a final answer. It can lead people to make suboptimal decisions.”

How do these two cognitive biases affect content creation? When our strategy originates from faulty assumptions (i.e., we must follow rigid brand guidelines; we must target our niche audience; we must post 3 times a week), we end up with content that fits branding guidelines but fails to go viral.

Furthermore, when that happens, we double down on cognitive bias with the confirmation bias, which is the “tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions, and discredit information that does not support the initial opinion.” Instead of reevaluating the importance of brand guidelines to content creation, we determine to lean even harder into branding. We didn’t use enough branding! We have to brand ourselves even harder!

What we really need to do is go back to the very beginning and examine our thinking. What is our goal? Have we framed the objectives correctly? Are we misled because we think we see patterns in the data, but we’re not using the information around us to learn and break our biases?

If you can shift your mentality from I know this is right, so I just have to try harder to I’m going to test my assumptions and prove myself wrong; you can start to unshackle your thinking from cognitive biases that hold you back. Additionally, you will open yourself up to learning from the information in front of you because you’ll start to recognize patterns that were there all along.

Thinking is hard. Rethinking is even harder, but worth it.

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