Optimism Bias

Japan seems to be built for optimism bias.

Optimism bias causes a person to believe that they are less at risk of experiencing a negative event compared to others.

It explains why humans sometimes don’t follow what would appear to be the objective  rational path.

Helen and I have been known to exhibit optimism bias on holidays.

The most famous occasion, perhaps, was visiting the World Financial Centre building in Shanghai during a short international layover in 2009. Yes, the Maglev did travel at more than 500km/h but it didn’t mean that everything else around it wasn’t going to be slow. As we we were being shepparded into the experience room, we had this feeling we were going to miss our plan. Helen is her best ‘you can’t do that in a library’ voice demanded that we get the priority route with no experiences. Thankfully, although we were the last to enter through the international gates, we just made it.

You’d think we’d learn. But I can think some examples already from this trip where we were, perhaps, subject to optimism bias. I’ll post some of these stories on the blog with the tag “optimism bias”.

On the very first night we were booked into a Geisha Evening show. We must turn up by 5:50pm or risk losing our spot. No worries we though, we’d ride our bikes and use Google Maps. We didn’t actually know the place we were going to. I can tell you, Google Maps directed us to a back entrance we arrived at 5:49pm. A little to close for comfort – but hey we made it. 

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