Use Choice Bias to develop positive habits

Choice bias and rewards

Because of choice bias (Choice-supportive bias), the same sandwich tastes better when ordered off a menu rather than picked out by someone else. The same principle applies to learning practical strategies and habits.

Studies have shown that our preference for making our own choices can be used to reinforce learning.

General definition

There is a tendency to overestimate the positive characteristics of the options one has chosen and overestimate the negative characteristics of the options they have not chosen.

Reward-producing actions are more likely to be repeated when brain activity changes. Especially when choosing our reward is our responsibility. So, take advantage of this decision-making process daily to achieve your desired outcomes.

“Man does not see reality as it is, but only as he percieves it, and his perception may be mistaken or biased.”

Rudolf Driekurs

How to apply it in daily life

  1. You choose your rewards. In addition, take action that reflects your values and make them a habit that infects your character. Maybe a special dessert or an extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning will motivate you.
  2. Flexibility is key. In contrast, you now know that choice bias is merely an illusion. Your boss’s gift certificate is just as valuable as the one you would buy for working on a holiday.
  3. Be aware of your power. Because, Choices will always have to be made, no matter how powerless you feel. You may not be able to change your circumstances, but your response to the situations can.
  4. Consider limiting your options. Choices and rewards are great, but there is such a thing as too many. So make sure you keep your list of rewards manageable.
  5. Take action right away. Act immediately to strengthen your lessons. For example, getting a pedicure and a vehicle wash simultaneously is okay. Immediate reinforcement aids in the formation of more robust associations in the brain.
  6. Repetition is key. Developing new habits takes time and effort. Fortunately, this means you’ll be able to reap even more benefits.

“Bias and prejudice are attiudes to be kept in hand, not attitudes to be avoided.”

Charles Curtis

How to apply choice bias in different situations

  1. Improve your parenting skills. You might recall your mother asking if you preferred carrots and broccoli or just broccoli. Choice bias affects both children as well.
  2. Take your career to the next level. Long periods may pass between raises and promotions. When you complete a training course, reward yourself with a night out, a new book or a weekend fishing.
  3. Re-energize your employment search. If you’re currently unemployed or underemployed, keep a positive mindset. Begin looking for your ideal career right now! Meanwhile, you can have a wonderful time on a tight budget by watching free movies online or taking a nature walk.
  4. Make daily chores more pleasurable. Do you postpone doing it when cleaning the house, washing the car, or mowing the grass? When you know there will be a reward at the end of your not-so-favourite duties; you will start looking forward to doing them.
  5. Maintain a healthy diet. Snack foods are easier to avoid when your meal plan includes a range of nutrient-dense foods. Make sure you get all the nutrients and minerals you need by trying veggies of different colours.
  6. Stop smoking. An essential health decision you can make is to quit smoking. Evidence suggests that multiple approaches can help boost your chances of success. Use a nicotine replacement patch and go to support groups while bribing yourself with appealing rewards for not smoking.
  7. Exercise regularly. Are you having trouble persuading yourself to get on the treadmill every afternoon? Alternating stretching, running, and swimming will make your workouts more enjoyable. The key to success is variety!

Make the power of individual choice work for you by channelling it. What could be better than reinforcing good habits while rewarding yourself for making sensible decisions?

Relationship to Cognitive Dissonance

A cognitive dissonance theory proposes that people are motivated by a desire to reduce dissonance. Psychologist Jack Brehm (1956) identified the aspect of cognitive dissonance known as post-decisional dissonance as a possible explanation for choice-supportive bias. In cognitive dissonance, the choice-supportive bias would reduce conflict between “I prefer X” and “I have committed to Y.”

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