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The Illusion of Control

Posted by vince
Published on 09 October 2023

The Illusion of Control

The illusion of control is the tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control events. It's a cognitive bias that can lead to problems like gambling addiction, excessive risk-taking, and unrealistic expectations.

Several factors can contribute to the illusion of control. One aspect is that people tend to pay more attention to events they believe they can control. This is because these events are more likely to be rewarded, reinforcing the belief that the person has control.

Another factor is that people tend to discount the role of chance in events. People often need to feel like they oversee their own lives. When things go wrong, people may blame themselves even when there is nothing they could have done to prevent it.

Illusion of Control

The illusion of control can be dangerous because it can lead people to take unnecessary risks. For example, a gambler may believe they can control a game's outcome, even though the odds are stacked against them. This can lead to financial ruin and addiction.

The illusion of control can also lead to unrealistic expectations. For example, a person may believe that they can always achieve their goals, even if they are not realistic. This can lead to disappointment and frustration.

There are several things that people can do to reduce the illusion of control. One is to be aware of the factors that contribute to the bias. Another is to be realistic about their ability to control events. Finally, people should be willing to accept that chance plays a role in life.

Here are some examples of the illusion of control:

  • People believe they can win the lottery by choosing the "right" numbers.
  • A gambler thinks they can win at the casino using a particular strategy.
  • A person believes that they can avoid getting sick by following a certain diet or exercise routine.
  • People think they can succeed in business by working hard and being smart.

It is important to note that the illusion of control is not always bad. It can be helpful in some situations, such as when it motivates people to work hard and achieve their goals. However, it is crucial to be aware of the bias so that it does not lead to problems.

There are many Cognitive Biases, many more than most people realise. If you want to think your way out of a mind trap, you must first realize you're already trapped. 

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