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  • Foto del escritorAJ Fernandez

Our inevitable desire to validate

Actualizado: 11 sept 2020

Life is great.

Or not.

It all depends on how we see it. And we are continuously looking for evidence to prove our point of view. If we were in the life-is-great team, this morning's sunrise would be exhibit A: "Amazing," a life-is-great person would think about the star's appearance.

On the other hand, a life-is-not-great human would quickly exclaim “same s***, different day”, looking at the same dawn. Why?

In the 1950s, a brilliant person noticed that when, for example, you belong to the life-is-great bunch and somebody around you points at some of the sun's dark clouds, you get what he called cognitive dissonance. That bright guy was Leon Festinger. And he said that when your brain faces contrarian thoughts, it immediately looks for a relief: proof to reaffirm your original idea. As a life-is-great believer, you would probably tell yourself, "isn't that incredible that behind that stormy look, there is a powerful sun waiting to appear?". Moreover, you would look for news in other cities not so far from yours and happily validate that their daybreaks were perfect. That search has a name: confirmation bias.

Brands thrive on confirmation bias because they are all about meeting expectations. When brands provide the equivalent to what they promise, they consolidate the beliefs dwelling in their consumers' brains. However, when brands don't deliver those pledges, two things happen. The first is Festinger's dissonance. When that happens, confirmation bias pushes the consumer to search for proof that her earliest beliefs were right so that she can put aside this faux de pas. The drive to avoid dissonance urges this consumer to find other brand attributes to prove that her original decision was a sound one. However, if the brand did not develop robust positive codes in the consumer's brain, she would have to look for a replacement. Today, in most categories, this consumer will likely find it. And, for that dismissed brand, well, life will not be great anymore.

The photo illustrating this note is courtesy of the fantastic Vietnamese photographer Quang Nguyen Vinh. Visit his page at:

For a short interview with Kahneman about biases go to:

If you get curious about Kahneman don’t miss his book: Thinking, Fast and Slow

If you get even more curious about Kahneman (and his partner Tsversky) then you need to read:

The Undoing Project (Michael Lewis).

The World According to Google

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