What Do You Think? How To Improve Your Perspective And Your Life | Woo-Kyoung Ahn PhD

Understanding how we think can change our thinking. From confirmation biases, to uncertainty, to overconfidence, we are all blessed with the same thinking patterns that affect our decision making. Yale professor, Dr Woo-kyoung Ahn walks us through the latest cognitive research on “thinking problems”, and most importantly, how we can overcome them.

We are limited in our cognition, our brain power in our lifespan…so we are bound to make thinking errors. ~ Woo-Kyoung Ahn, Episode 360 Click To Tweet

Woo-kyoung Ahn is a psychology professor and the director of the Thinking Lab at Yale University. Recently she wrote a riveting book titled “Thinking 101: How to Reason Better to Live Better.” On this episode of Behavioral Grooves, she joins Tim Houlihan and producer Mary Kaliff to make the case that there are some good reasons behind our ways of thinking. For example, confirmation bias can save us energy and help bring consistency to our lives.

Dr Ahn illustrates her book and this discussion with many relatable, personal stories that illustrate our patterns of thinking. Our favorite is that she recently updated her lecture notes for her class at Yale on the planning fallacy. She had optimistically estimated it would take her 3 days. Ironically, it took her 3 weeks!

As always, the most useful part of the conversation on Behavioral Grooves are the practical tips that we can use in our everyday life. And Woo-kyoung offers us plenty of useful ways we change our perspective and improve our lives. Join Tim and Mary for further discussion in the Grooving Session on how to apply Woo-kyoung’s work.



(3:16) Welcome and speed round questions.

(6:26) Who is Thinking 101 written for?

(9:58) What are “thinking problems” and what exactly is confirmation bias?

(12:29) What is the link between maximizing, satisficing and confirmation bias?

(18:09) Should we change people’s minds or change our perspective?

(20:33) Why are we overconfident about what others are thinking?

(23:22) Why is confirmation bias hardwired in us?

(26:25) Why are highly educated women biased against other highly educated women?

(28:38) What can we do about confirmation bias in job selection?

(31:43) How do collective societies vs individualistic societies affect our identity?

(34:18) The difference between emotional theory of mind and cognitive theory of mind.

(35:42) How to combat the planning fallacy.

(41:40) How uncertainty affects our decision making.

(46:11) What music would Woo-kyoung take to a desert island?

(47:49) Grooving Session with Tim and Mary about uncertainty and decision making.


© 2023 Behavioral Grooves


Other Episodes You Will Enjoy

Episode 300, You Can Change Someone’s Mind But Are You Sure You Want To? | David McRaney

Episode 31, Leaving the Matrix: Annie Duke and Insights into how you can improve your thinking!

Episode 345, The Tools You Need To Embrace Uncertainty | Nathan and Susannah Harmon Furr


AIRDATE: June 11, 2023 EPISODE 360

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What Do You Think? How To Improve Your Perspective And Your Life | Woo-Kyoung Ahn PhD