“What if psychology is real?” This may seem like a rhetorical question, but I note many instances where folks act as though it isn’t. For the most part, they don’t even know it – but oftentimes they do.
Rational vs. Emotional Decision Making
Studies show that emotions are much more influential to decision making than people estimate. As such, I see many situations where individuals expect another to respond in a completely objective, rational manner. Science, and even common sense, tells us this is not the case. Without belaboring the obvious, this is why the concept of Emotional Intelligence gains credibility.
In fact, people do NOT make rational decisions most of the time. A quick read through other posts on this blog will reveal that biases, emotions and other non-rational factors weigh very heavily on decision making and behavior. To point, this is why psychology exists independent from computer science and artificial intelligence.
Basic Assessment – a typical example
As individuals we have at least two factors that obfuscate the accuracy of a basic self or other examination: bias and motivation.
Bias is the unconscious distortion of reality due to systematic errors of judgment. We can’t help being biased – sometimes even if we know about the very risk. Nevertheless, most of us fail to adequately recognize bias as a real factor when assessing others or ourselves.
As for motivation, most of us will alter our behavior when we know we are being watched. I have another blog coming specifically dedicated to this and will update this piece once it is ‘blogged out’. Simply put, if we know the results of a personal assessment will lead to a decision of interest to us, we will modify our behavior to enhance the likelihood of getting the results we want.
This is one of the reasons we favor supervisor assessments over ‘self-assessments’ when determining terms of employment. Individuals are neither accurate, nor motivated to be so, when valuable stakes are on the line.
What’s the big deal – we’re all psychologists in some way anyway, right?
May be. But how good are we – really?
“Basic principles of psychology affect world change.”
Psychological factors influence voting behavior, aggressive behavior, attitudes as well as stereotypes and a host of other factors that influence global affairs. For the biggest issues psychologists are typically employed to insure key factors are considered for the benefit of assessment and decision making not to mention world peace.
Bringing it home
What if YOU aren’t the most accurate and objective assessor of others? What if THEY aren’t motivated to present the cold, hard facts about themselves?
This is the reality, yet many decisions are made without any consideration of factors such as these. And they matter – a lot.
How crucial is it to manage talent – or yourself — wisely? How critical is it to make the best hiring decision, or personal selection decision?
Now: How often do you seek the service of a professional in work psychology to aid decisions about talent?
Psychology: It really makes a difference.