Basal Line Bias in Decision Making

By Tom Davidson

Q. What’s the most important thing to know about decision making?

A. One of the most common problems for all of us in decision making is overcoming our natural biases and guarding against the assumptions that we make so quickly.

One of the forms of bias that affects our thinking every day is “confirmation bias,” which has to do with allowing our predispositions to interfere with our rationale thought process. This is particularly true with deeply held beliefs (i.e., political beliefs, beliefs about people, what we believe about how things are supposed to work).

For foresters and other natural resource professionals, we run into this bias every day – and have these biases ourselves. As managers of people, we also have to guard against this all-too-common tendency, or we risk making grave errors in judgment.

Here’s a fun – albeit embarrassing – example of what this looks like, even with something as simple as a cup of coffee! 

New $7 Cup of Coffee at Starbucks


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