Overcoming Bias: Tools to Help you Navigate Mental Health Resources

When you live with a mental health condition, or you love someone who does, you are often desperate to find information and resources that will help with personal education, treatment, and recovery. As you work to empower yourself with information, it’s important to examine the kinds of cognitive biases that can shape or limit our understanding of the information we are coming into contact with. NAMI Washtenaw volunteer, John Sepp, has developed two infographics to help you reflect on your biases and thought processes as you engage with information and resources about mental health.

John Sepp’s methods in Overcoming Bias: Approaching Information Effectively through Proper Reasoning Skills Motivated Reasoning: This is where we form or maintain a belief because we want it to be true. This can be displayed by accepting evidence confirming our beliefs, and subconsciously ignoring evidence that disconfirms them. Introspection Illusion: This is a misguided assumption that our own biases are transparent to us, and that we can diagnose them through introspection. We assume people are honest, and when conflict occurs, we assume they are biased. Optional Stopping: We have a tendency to allow the search for evidence to come to a close when convenient. This can skew the evidence, and we are more likely to stop looking when evidence found already confirms our beliefs. Evidence Primacy Effect: When information is gathered over time, we give early information more weight than late information, leading to confirmation bias, or even a failure to pay attention and interpret later evidence.
Applying these Skills: Knowing the Two Forms of Reasoning Type 1 Reasoning: Cognitive processes that are automatic and effortless. Examples include feelings, intuitions, and impulses. This form of reasoning has benefits, such as quickly making decisions and guiding us through the day, but is subject to many biases. This reasoning cannot be “turned off.” Type 2 Reasoning: This is the collection of cognitive processes that are directly controlled, effortful, and transparent. They are slower, deliberate, and conscious. Reflecting, explaining, and deep-thinking is what type 2 reasoning is all about. Unlike type 1, it can be altered. Type 2 reasoning can be used to reflect on our type 1 reasoning, and help alleviate some of the subconscious biases we have. Similarly, type 1 can be useful in situations where our intuition is needed quickly rather than second guessing ourselves. Finding the balance between the two is something to work towards. Recognizing the difference between these forms of reasoning is extremely important, and letting them work in conjunction rather than against each other is essential.

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