Paying attention to your attention

As Matthew Crawford famously said: “Attention is a resource—a person has only so much of it.” Of course, in today’s attention economy, it has become harder than ever to protect this precious resource.

But something we don’t talk enough about is how, even before the advent of smartphones and social media apps, we have always been doing a pretty poor job at managing our attention. Paying attention to the most salient piece of information is something we humans have always done. It used to be a matter of survival. Today, it’s a source of bad decisions.

This week, you will learn how your attentional bias is often pulling the strings when you are processing information and making choices, as well as ways to limit its impact when you are faced with big decisions. We will also talk about abstract thinking, a powerful yet potentially dangerous tool to add (with caution) to your thinking tool box.

To a year of better thinking!

Anne-Laure Le Cunff, the founder of Ness Labs

Brain food

Attentional bias: the invisible puppeteer behind our decisions (6 min)
Most people feel that, within the constraints they need to navigate, they are in control of their decisions. But we often automatically follow a train of thought or an external cue without noticing the selective factors in our attention. This phenomenon is called the attentional bias, and it affects many of the decisions we make.

The art and science of abstract thinking (4 min)
What is something we only become capable of doing after age eleven, that helps us solve complex problems and write poetry, but needs to be yielded carefully? That’s abstract thinking, a powerful tool for creativity and innovation which anyone can learn how to use better.

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