Risk Assessment Thinking Errors and Fear

In our last episode, we spoke about risk assessment and how our brains are slow to develop this important aspect of living. This is one reason human children tend to stay with their parents for so long compared with other mammals – and why teenagers tend to get involved in risky behaviors that sometimes cause long-term damage to them and others.

There is another aspect to risk assessment that maybe gets overlooked. That aspect is fear. When we experience fear, we tend to overestimate danger and risk – sometimes wildly. This overestimate can cause us to be overly cautious, resulting in missed opportunities for education and connection.

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Risk Assessment Thinking Errors

If you absolutely knew that you were short a tool for a specific job or were short a certain weapon you needed to overcome an enemy, wouldn’t you be keen to obtain that tool or weapon BEFORE you engaged in whatever activity required it? Of course you would.

Would you blame a coworker for not doing a job properly if you knew they weren’t provided the tools necessary to do it. Of course you wouldn’t.

And yet, there have been numerous times in my life when I’ve nonetheless gone off unprepared, incorrect, or expecting another to be so prepared when I knew they were incapable of it. I would not ask a blind man to read the paper to me, yet I expected my teenage daughter to understand the danger she’d put herself in when she’d walk to the mall without telling anyone where she was going. I could assess the risk better than she could because she was not yet in full possession of risk assessment tools.

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