The dangers of apophenia: not everything happens for a reason

Humans love patterns. Sometimes that’s helpful, but other times… Not so much. Apophenia is the common tendency to detect patterns that do not exist. Also known as “patternicity”, apophenia occurs when we try to make predictions, or seek answers, based on unrelated events. Apophenia can lead to poor decision-making. For instance, many people choose their …

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The psychology of negative thinking

Of course, we all have negative thoughts from time to time. After all, our thought processes are affected by what we experience around us, and it’s normal to experience both good and bad times. However, when negative thinking becomes the norm, it can contribute to mental health problems including social anxiety, low self-esteem, and even …

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How developing mental immunity can protect us from bad ideas

Every day, a new video goes “viral”, and an “infectious” idea starts spreading. Mental immunity is a psychological theory that is also known as cognitive immunology. With origins dating back 70 years, this field of research is based on the premise that not only is there an immune system for the body, but an immune …

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How to increase your creativity by cultivating creative self-efficacy

Do you think of yourself as someone who is not creative? Creative work can be challenging, and many people lack confidence in their own ability. Psychologists have reported that being unsure, anxious or defeatist about your creative potential can become a self-fulfilling prophecy that hinders your performance. Creative self-efficacy is the internal belief that you …

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The emerging theory of authentic leadership

Being “authentic” has become a bit of an overused buzzword, and has lost some of its meaning. However, despite the concept not being fully mature in a theoretical or experimental sense, early research has shown that authentic leadership may improve team performance compared to traditional management. Authentic leadership is an emerging theory that encourages managers …

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Using the goal gradient hypothesis to help people cross the finish line

Our perception of progress can impact our overall drive to reach a goal. The goal gradient hypothesis posits that our efforts increase as we get closer to achieving a goal: when the reward is in sight, we feel incentivised to reach the finish line. Designers and decision-makers can effectively use goal gradients as a motivational …

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The danger of emotional reasoning and using our emotions as proof

Cognitive distortions are thought patterns that can affect our perception of reality. One such distortion is emotional reasoning. This is a thought pattern in which our emotional reactions, or our feelings, lead us to believe that something is true even when the empirical evidence tells us otherwise.  Emotional reasoning is very common in the workplace. …

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