The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

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What Is 'Modal Bias'?

Modal Bias is the automatic assumption that our idea is always best.

The best way to avoid Model Bias is to use Inhibition to temporarily suspend judgment, at least long enough to consider other perspectives and suggestions.

Model Bias is automatic, so we need to use Willpower and Inhibition to overcome it. Deliberately keeping an open mind will improve your decision making.

Josh Kaufman Explains 'Modal Bias'

A few years ago, I was traveling on business with a colleague who was amazed that I was carrying a shoulder bag instead of a rolling suitcase. It was an overnight trip, so I didn't need much-a change of clothes, my computer, and a book. I had everything I needed and the bag wasn't heavy, so my solution worked just fine.

My colleague thought my solution was absurd, and spent the next ten minutes telling me so: "It's much better to carry a rolling suitcase! It would be more comfortable, and there'd be less weight. You should always carry a rolling suitcase..."

Modal Bias is the automatic assumption that our idea or approach is best.

Most of us like to assume we have everything together-that we know what we're talking about, we know what we're doing, and that our way of doing things is best. Very often, we are quite mistaken.

There is always more than one way to get something done, and good ideas can come from anywhere.

In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the "HiPPO" rules: decisions are made according to the "Highest Paid Person's Opinion." HiPPO is a term coined by Avinash Kaushik in Web Analytics: An Hour a Day to explain why it's critically important to support business proposals and decisions with data.

In the absence of data, you'll ultimately be forced to do things the boss's way: Modal Bias ensures that the bosses think that their way is best, unless you can prove otherwise.

In a battle of opinions, the HiPPO always wins.

The best way to avoid Modal Bias is to use Inhibition to temporarily suspend judgment. Part of the value of understanding cognitive biases is the knowledge that you're not immune to them, and simply knowing they exist don't make them any less influential.

Modal Bias is automatic-we have to use Willpower to overcome it.

If you're a leader or manager, it pays to suspend your judgment long enough to thoroughly consider the perspectives and suggestions of the people you work with. Otherwise, you're very likely to miss important information.

Remind yourself to keep an open mind, and you'll enhance your ability to make wise decisions.

Questions About 'Modal Bias'


"We find comfort among those who agree with us, and growth among those who don't."

Frank A. Clark, minister and newspaper columnist


From Chapter 8:

Working With Others


https://personalmba.com/modal-bias/



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The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


About Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is an acclaimed business, learning, and skill acquisition expert. He is the author of two international bestsellers: The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours. Josh's research and writing have helped millions of people worldwide learn the fundamentals of modern business.

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