Your first experience or exposure to a person, topic of study, or subject creates a first impression. This initial decision will then often disproportionally shape your ideas about that person or subject going forward. When new information comes in that contradicts this primary opinion it is often not even noticed or it is ignored in favor of only seeing information that supports the first appraisal.
Closing down and sticking closely to the opinion you formed on first exposure is known as the Primacy Effect. Only seeing data or, rather, only searching for and selecting data that matches that existing theory or opinion is known as a Confirmation Bias.
These distortions are quite common. They are also why you may find it difficult to move past your initial social or cultural norms when presented with information that contradicts those beliefs. Often, what you are first taught about something has tremendous mental staying power – even when information comes around later that speaks strongly against it.
To learn more about how to examine your beliefs and thoughts, review Sunday’s post. The second activity has you examine where your beliefs come from.
Pay attention to the primacy effect and your own confirmation bias. Learn to see all the data coming in and be willing to change your assessment if it contradicts your initial thoughts or impression.
Fridays – Flaws in Thinking
There are some common errors in thinking (more formally called cognitive distortions and biases) that can get in the way of healthy and helpful thinking. Each Friday, you will learn a new term to help in seeing your own thinking more clearly.
My Writing and Other Resources for Students
A growing collection of writing and other resources for students to use to continue their growth.