Create an experiential exercise to Increase your awareness of the cognitive biases that influence which data you select and how you interpret it, especially under emotional stress.

To increase your awareness of cognitive biases that influence data selection and interpretation, particularly under emotional stress, consider the following experiential exercise:

Step 1: Identify and Reflect

Start by identifying a recent stressful situation where you had to make a decision. Reflect on the following questions in a journaling session:

  • What data did you focus on during the situation?
  • What assumptions did you make to fill in the gaps?
  • How might you challenge or test those assumptions?
  • What other data might have been available but ignored?

This step is about self-awareness and recognizing the ladder of inference in action. By journaling, you can slow down and observe your thought process, which is usually automatic and biased. [3][6]

Step 2: Role-Play Advocacy and Inquiry

Engage in a role-play with a partner where you present your decision-making process from the stressful situation. During this exercise:

  • Clearly articulate the reasoning behind your decision (advocacy).
  • Ask your partner to inquire about your thought process, encouraging them to ask questions that might reveal data you overlooked or assumptions you made.
  • Switch roles and repeat the process.

This step is about making your reasoning visible to others and opening up to inquiry, which can expose overlooked data and challenge your assumptions. [6]

Step 3: Cognitive Reappraisal

Revisit the stressful situation and apply cognitive reappraisal by changing the way you think about the data and your initial interpretations. Ask yourself:

  • What if the opposite of my initial conclusion were true?
  • How would I interpret the data differently?
  • What evidence would support this alternative viewpoint?

This step involves emotion regulation and the ability to reassess the situation from a different perspective, potentially leading to new insights. [7][8]

Step 4: Meditation and Attention Management

Practice a short meditation focused on attention management. During the meditation:

  • Observe your thoughts as they arise, particularly those related to the stressful situation.
  • Notice when your attention is drawn to certain pieces of data or interpretations.
  • Gently guide your attention to consider alternative data or perspectives.

Meditation can help cultivate the ability to manage your attention and become more aware of where it's being directed, especially under stress. [5][7]

Step 5: Simulation and Stress Reduction

Simulate a stressful decision-making scenario, either through a role-play or a thought experiment. During the simulation:

  • Pay attention to the emotional response the stress evokes.
  • Consciously work to keep stress levels low through deep breathing or other calming techniques.
  • Observe how stress impacts the data you select and the decisions you make.

By practicing stress reduction in a simulated environment, you can prepare yourself to better handle real-life situations and mitigate the impact of stress on your decision-making. [7]

Step 6: Review and Plan

After completing the exercise, review your journal entries, role-play feedback, and observations from the simulation. Create a plan for how you can apply these insights to real-life situations. Consider:

  • Strategies for regularly questioning your assumptions.
  • Techniques for managing stress in the moment.
  • Ways to incorporate diverse perspectives and data into your decision-making process.

This step is about applying the insights gained from the exercise to your daily life and decision-making processes, with a focus on continuous improvement and learning. [2][4][7]

Remember, the goal of this exercise is not to eliminate cognitive biases—they are a natural part of human cognition—but to become more aware of them and reduce their negative impact on your decision-making, especially during times of emotional stress.