Three Lessons About Cognitive Biases

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The mission of our national parks and that of a financial advisor share some remarkable similarities. Our parks aim to conserve beautiful, sacred landscapes across our country for future generations, and to continue to grow those parks and the connection with their visitors. Advisors are entrusted to conserve and protect their clients’ livelihoods to ensure their financial futures, as well as grow those relationships with care and attention.

What do stunning natural landscapes like those of Bryce Canyon National Park and financial services professionals need protection from to achieve this mission of stewardship?


We must go on the journey equipped with the tools needed to mitigate the harmful impact of our unconscious biases. Here are three lessons that our parks teach us about the cognitive biases advisors need to be aware of as the trusted protectors of their clients’ financial futures.

1. System justification bias

Americans have been told for decades that to solve plastic pollution we need to recycle and do our part as individuals. Therefore, I recycle, just like my neighbor, and feel justified in my contribution to the cause. But a whopping 91% of plastic is not recycled, and microplastics were found to be pervasive at all national park beaches. The idea of recycling was perpetuated by none other than one of the largest contributors to global plastic waste: massive food and beverage corporations. What is the disconnect? System justification bias, for one. We bolster and idealize the status quo, and subconsciously defend the desirability and legitimacy of our systems simply because they exist.