As intelligent as we are, humans can also be quite irrational. While we like to think of ourselves as logical and rational beings, we often make decisions that don’t make sense or act on emotions that don’t serve us well. Why is this the case? Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons humans can be so irrational.
Are humans really rational beings?
Firstly, humans are influenced by their emotions. Emotions are an important part of our makeup as humans, but they can also lead us to make irrational decisions. For example, someone might make an impulsive purchase because they feel happy or excited, without thinking about whether they need the item or if it’s within their budget.
Similarly, people might avoid taking a necessary risk because they feel afraid, even though taking that risk might be the best decision in the long run.
Secondly, humans have cognitive biases. Cognitive biases are mental shortcuts that our brains use to process information more efficiently, but they can also lead to irrational thinking. For example, confirmation bias is the tendency to look for information that confirms our existing beliefs and ignore information that contradicts them.
This can lead people to make decisions based on incomplete or inaccurate information. Similarly, the sunk cost fallacy is the tendency to continue investing in something (like a project or relationship) even when it’s no longer beneficial, simply because we’ve already invested so much time or resources into it.
Thirdly, humans often rely on heuristics. Heuristics are simple rules of thumb that we use to make decisions quickly and efficiently. While heuristics can be helpful in some situations, they can also lead to irrational thinking.
For example, the availability heuristic is the tendency to overestimate the likelihood of something happening if it’s easy to recall examples of it happening in the past. This can lead people to make decisions based on anecdotal evidence rather than empirical data.
Lastly, humans can be influenced by social pressures. Humans are social creatures, and we often make decisions based on what we think others expect of us or what will make us fit in with a certain group. This can lead to irrational thinking and decision-making, as people may prioritise fitting in or pleasing others over their own best interests.
Humans are neither rational nor beasts
In conclusion, humans are not purely rational beings. Our emotions, cognitive biases, heuristics, and social pressures can all lead to irrational thinking and decision-making. While we can’t eliminate these factors, being aware of them can help us make better decisions and avoid making choices that don’t serve us well.
By understanding our irrational tendencies, we can work to overcome them and become more thoughtful intentional decision-makers.