I always wondered why team members in my companies think things are true without any shred of evidence to prove it . We have all heard of confirmation bias, but how do they start to believe something that has no basis in fact? It’s called the “Illusionary Truth Effect” which is the tendency to believe false information to be correct after repeated exposure.
On The Small Business Radio Show this week, I discussed this with Kat Schmid holds a PhD in Social Psychology, as well as a BSc in Applied Psychology. She is an associate professor at Esade Business School and co-author of the MIT Sloan Management Review article “The Cognitive Shortcut that Clouds Decision-M aking”.
Kat says that this “Illusory Truth Effect” has been around forever; “It is a bias of how we process information; we believe something is truer when we hear the same thing for the second or third time. Unfortunately, it has also to do with how we learn since repetition helps as a subtle shortcut which we overly rely on for processing all information.” The Internet has made it easy to get information whether it is true or not.
In small business, we hear things like “meetings that are held over Zoom are less effective or a four day work week is more productive; the more you hear these statements the “truer” they get!”. This information may not be correct so how can leaders make sure that inaccurate information does not get believed by employees?
Kat reveals the four strategies to prevent and combat the “Illusory Truth Effect”. These include:
- Avoid your own biases. Don’t assume that you will not fall prey to your own biases. You are vulnerable like everyone else.
- Get diverse input when making decisions. Get different and opposing views on an issue before you make a decision.
- Question facts and assumptions. Adopt an accuracy focus; ask the question- “How do I know this is true? Is there information that goes against it.”
- Nudge the truth. Repeat the truth (but don’t fall into the trap of the “Illusionary Truth Effect”.)
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