Wednesday, June 19

Blinded by Good Intentions

Intriguing research on the cognitive biases and harmful effects of those convinced of the good of their own intentions.

Barbara Oakley describes "pathological altruism" - defined as "as behavior in which attempts to promote the welfare of another, or others, results instead in harm that an external observer would conclude was reasonably foreseeable."
...those possessing altruism bias would be most strongly biased to object to the very concept of altruism bias. Research has shown the near impossibility of reaching biased individuals using rational approaches, no matter their level of education or intelligence; such attempts can be likened to squaring the circle.
Many ancients understood this - the 'negative' version of the Golden Rule avoids the intervention bias of the positive one: "What thou avoidest suffering thyself seek not to impose on others." – Epictetus

Blog post on the research here. Paper here.