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Do You Know Your Blind Spots?

Written by Judith E. Glaser

spotting when to changeMany of us act as though we all see the same reality, yet the truth is we don't. Human Beings have cognitive biases or blind spots.

Blind spots are ways that our mind becomes blocked from seeing reality as it is - blinding us from seeing the real truth about ourselves in relation to others. Once we form a conclusion, we become blind to alternatives, even if they are right in front of their eyes.

Emily Pronin, a social psychologist, along with colleagues Daniel Lin and Lee Ross, at Princeton University's Department of Psychology, created the term "blind spots."  The bias blind spot is named after the visual blind spot.

Passing the Ball - Watch this Video

 

There is a classic experiment that demonstrates one level of blind spots that can be attributed to awareness and focused-attention. When people are instructed to count how many passes the people in white shirts make on the basketball court, they often get the number of passes correct, but fail to see the person in the black bear suit walking right in front of their eyes. Hard to believe but true!

Blind Spots & Denial

However, the story of blind spots gets more interesting when we factor in our cognitive biases that come from our social needs to look good in the eyes of others.

When people operate with blind spots, coupled with a strong ego, they often refuse to adjust their course even in the face of opposition from trusted advisors,  or incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.

Two well-known examples of blind spots are Henry Ford and A&P:

Ford's success with the Model-T blinded him to the desires of his customers. That gave the fledging General Motors an opportunity to capture a winning share of the automobile market with a broader range of models and options. A&P stuck with the grocery chain's private label products even as their customers defected en masse to supermarkets that carried the national brands they saw advertised on TV.

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