Irrational behavior

    The programmer's working tool is his own brain, the second weapon is teamwork. If you are smart enough to write good algorithms and quickly understand new technologies, and in addition to integrate well into teams, know how to find a common language with managers, colleagues and customers, then you are almost a Guru.

    However, often, programmers have problems with the “second weapon” - teamwork or communication. Users ask stupid questions, employees write weird code, managers want something incomprehensible - why aren't they all as simple and logical as computers?

    A beginner's guide to Irrational Behavior

    One winter evening I was interested in the course “ A beginner's guide to Irrational Behavior ” on Coursera. The course is worth taking a look at; I cannot give all the examples and theories here; I will cite what impressed me the most.

    1) About our own ideas: we love our own ideas more than others' ideas - this is a feature of psychology. Let's take two ideas: one is expressed by another person, one by you. Objectively, the quality of the idea of ​​that person is 100 points, the quality of your idea is 95. You will be inclined towards your own, since “love of your own ideas” acts like a magnifying glass, and 95 seem like 110.

    Isn't this the reason that programmers love write your own framework, or at least a module, whereas in principle there are existing ones?

    2)About what we invest in: a person is very attached to what he has invested in. This is also a feature of psychology. What a person invested in is more valuable to him than the same thing obtained from somewhere. That is why your employee is not very happy when you edit his code.

    We love cake that we ourselves baked more than bought. We love our children more than strangers - because we raised them ourselves. We love the postcard we painted more than the new one from the store. IKEA furniture takes advantage of this psychological effect: the furniture that you assembled with your own hands is somehow dearer and dearer to you.

    In our case - again - your framework is more familiar.

    3) On the results of labor:it is very important for a person that the results of his work do not disappear. When a person knows that what he does does not need anyone, he eventually loses motivation. Even if honestly paid money for work on this (salary, for example).

    An experiment was conducted in the lecture: they asked people to make robots from Lego, they paid $ 3 per robot. But the made robot was destroyed before a person’s eyes. After a certain number of robots made, the person stopped: why do I do it if nobody needs it? It would seem: do, you get $ 3 in any case. But no - those whose robots were not destroyed, worked much longer than those whose they broke.

    An example was given: the team worked on the project, but it was closed. If you inform the team about this, for some time their morale will drop (it would seem - well, does it matter, did you get your salary?). To prevent this from happening, the lecturer recommends focusing on the fact that the experience and experience from this project will be very useful.

    4) On the fear of risk: man is a creature that does not like risk. Not all - some sources say that this is laid down genetically - but most of us are risk-averse (this term can be google).

    The experiment is as follows: you are offered $ 40 per hand, or try to play the lottery with a 50% chance of winning $ 100. You will most likely take $ 40, and you won’t take any chances.

    Risk avoidance plays a role in the programmer’s work when: when choosing an implementation method, you have a tendency to choose an old and familiar method instead of an effective, but new and unfamiliar one. To take the framework with which you have already worked, to use the language you are used to, to write in the way that you have already written - despite the fact that it may not be the most effective in this case, is all a feature of human psychology - the tendency to choose risk-free paths.

    5) On the decline in value in the long run:that “here and now” we look through a magnifying glass, and that “in the future” - through a magnifying glass. If “here and now” chocolate lies before you, and “in the future” you want to be slim and fit, “here and now” somehow wins. That "in the future" is constantly minimized.

    That is why many people are not able to save money - the expenses "here and now" constantly seem significant, important, and their weight constantly beat a long-term goal. The same thing happens with goals in terms of health, professional development, and anything else.

    All these examples are examples of the mechanisms that make us act irrationally: choose not the best idea (but our own), get attached to our own crafts (rather than use existing ones), choose old technologies (since the new one carries a risk), or do what is important now, instead of doing what is important in the long run.

    Cognitive distortion

    An even more complete list of “distortions” that force us (or others) to behave irrationally is found on Wikipedia ( link ). Here are the most interesting of them:

    The effect of doubt is the tendency to give preference to one of the options about which more information is available ( it may not be the most correct ) ( link )
    The effect of the group is the tendency to believe in something, simply because it believes in it many other people ( hi, Apple! ) ( link )
    The blind spot effect is a tendency to see fewer errors in oneself than in other people ( cf. “We see a speck in the eyes of others, we don’t notice logs in our eyes” ) ( link )
    Distortion confirmation - a tendency to pay more attention to the facts that confirm existing your opinion, and less attention - to refute ( oh, this self-righteousness ) ( link )
    distortion test - the tendency to test the hypothesis by testing the right way, instead of checking disproving its paths ( This is the bread of our testers and a description of how programmers check their code ) ( link )
    The curse of knowledge - it is very difficult or almost impossible for a more informed person to understand how the problem is seen MA or task from the point of view of a less informed person (remember this when the accountant comes to you with questions, or when you are unhappy that the manager or team leader didn’t explain something to you enough ) ( link )
    Failure to plan - when planning, a person tends to underestimate the time it takes for a task ( it’s familiar, isn’t it? ) ( link )
    The effect of social competition is the tendency to choose from candidates those who do not compete with your own strengths ( is this useful in interviews? ) ( link )
    The effect of the beaten track is the tendency to choose familiar ways, means, means ( link )

    Other interesting effects -the effect of small payments , the effect of “I-knew-you-know” or “I-said-same” , IKEA effect , the phenomenon of a fair world and many others .


    Rational behavior - this is the behavior to maximize any of the parameters. In life, we often - without realizing it - behave irrationally (give preference to our ideas, see specks only in the eyes of others, succumb to the “I-knew-know” effect) and get angry when someone else behaves irrationally. Knowing about your own cognitive biases will allow you not only to make more correct decisions, but also, and most importantly, to be more loyal to your colleagues and their cognitive biases.

    Successful work and communication to all!

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