Biases & Distortions in Shidduchim

Throughout the Torah we see numerous examples of biases & distortions that effect halachic rulings. For example: the accuracy of the memory when witnessing events, a Soneh, or Ohev are not believable witnesses, Hilchos Lashon Hara, and many more instances. We tend to believe that “seeing is believing” that what we see is what others see. Yet if two witnesses testify in Bes Din the exact same testimony of what they saw and heard, this testimony is NOT believed.

All perceptions and memories are flawed. It is important to be aware of these many biases in order not to fall prey to distortions in perception. A comprehensive delineation of these biases are enough to fill a book. Here is a short list and description of several common forms of distorted thinking.

These biases and distortions affect the way

  • that the shidduch resume is (mis)interpreted,
  • that feedback from references is (mis)interpreted,
  • that pictures give false impressions,
  • that first impressions from the initial meeting is (mis)interpreted, and
  • the variables that prevent relationships from getting off the ground.

True love requires clear sightedness.

כי כאשר תתבונן בהפרש אשר בין אהבת חסר דעת ובין אהבת בעל שכל, יתבאר לך כי אהבת השוטה אינה אהבה, אלא מחשבה עוברת, והמשכיל ישכיל למי יאהב ואיך יאהב. -ספר הישר

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Why Shidduch Profiles and Shidduch Resumes are (Mis)Interpreted

Shidduch resumes sometimes simply list schools, family members and references. Whenever the shidduch resume has a section "About Me" and "Looking For", descriptions of their personality supposedly tailored specifically for them, are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. This is called the Forer effect (also called the Barnum effect).

In 1948, psychologist Bertram R. Forer gave a personality test to his students. He told his students they were each receiving a unique personality analysis that was based on the test`s results and to rate their analysis on how well it applied to themselves. In reality, each received the same sketch, consisting of the following items

  1. You have a great need for other people to like and admire you.
  2. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself.
  3. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage.
  4. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them.
  5. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside.
  6. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing.
  7. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations.
  8. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others`statements without satisfactory proof.
  9. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others.
  10. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved.
  11. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic.
  12. Security is one of your major goals in life.

On average, the students rated its accuracy as 4.26 on a scale of 0 (very poor) to 5 (excellent). Only after the ratings were turned in was it revealed that each student had received identical copies assembled by Forer from a newsstand astrology book.The quote contains a number of statements that are vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people.

In another study examining the Forer effect, students took a personality assessment and researchers evaluated their responses. The researchers wrote accurate evaluations of the students’ personalities, but gave the students both the accurate assessment and a fake assessment using vague generalities. Students were then asked to choose which personality assessment they believe was their own, actual assessment. More than half of the students (59%) chose the fake assessment as opposed to the real one.

The effect is so consistent because the statements are so vague. People are able to read their own meaning into the statements they receive, and thus, the statement becomes "personal" to them. The most effective statements contain statements based around the phrase: "at times." Such as: "At times you feel very sure of yourself, while at other times you are not as confident." This phrase can apply to almost anybody, and thus each person can read their own meaning into it.

It is very common for people to write on their shidduch resumes something to the effect of: I am looking for someone "serious but fun". By including the contrast of the polarized ends, they include everyone on the spectrum which is interpreted subjectively by the individual reading it as relevant to them.

This is called the Rainbow ruse. It works because personality traits are not quantifiable, and also because nearly everybody has experienced both sides of a particular emotion at some time in their lives.

Statements of this type might include:

  • "Most of the time you are positive and cheerful, but there has been a time in the past when you were very upset."
  • "You are a very kind and considerate person, but when somebody does something to break your trust, you feel deep-seated anger."
  • "I would say that you are mostly shy and quiet, but when the mood strikes you, you can easily become the center of attention."
Self-serving bias

It is not only that the personality descriptions are vague and generic, and not only when the whole spectrum is covered, but also social desirability that causes distortions in personality descriptions.Self- serving bias is found when participants were given a list of generic traits and asked to rate how much they felt these traits applied to them. The majority agreed with positive traits about themselves, and disagreed with negative ones.

Self-serving bias can cancel the Forer effect if the generic description is perceived as negative, but attenuates the effect if the perceived description is positive. For example, when the reader of the shidduch resume comes to the section of “What I am looking for”, when it comes to one word that is “NOT” what the reader is looking for, the forer effect is canceled, but if it generically fits, it makes the forer effect stronger so that generic descriptions are perceived as a “perfect fit.

Because the self-serving bias distorts cognitive or perceptual processes in order to maintain and enhance self-esteem, it perpetuates illusions and error.

So the long and the short of this, is that people in shidduchim present to both the shadchanim and those that they are suggested to, a distorted description. Either the writing “about me” and “what I am looking for” is so generic to that it applies to most anyone (Forer Effect) or gives an exaggerated one sided “socially desirable” persona (self-serving bias). As the bias is so strongly ingrained, we are taught to judge people favorably- not just to hypothesize the justification of their actions, but also not see them in a different light from rumors about them.

Example of Shidduch Resume Subject to Distortions
About Chaya:

Chaya is pretty, intelligent, sensitive to other’s needs, kind, Tzanuah, chesed oriented, fun, and always striving to do the right thing. She can be outgoing- not quiet but also not loud. Chaya likes to be open minded and think out of the box. She is close to her friends and family and tries to always see the best in everyone.

Looking for: Chaya wants to marry someone with Yirei Shamayim, and good midos, someone who always strives to grow. She would like to support someone in learning for as long as she is financially able to.

In this shidduch resume, note the self-serving bias (lack of negative qualities) and the Barnum statements. Note also your initial impression even though an age or height or background was not stated. How ‘open minded’ do you think she is? Note the rainbow ruse - How outgoing is she really?

Trying to over read into this resume is futile and only reinforces your own biases. Because of these biases, these shidduch resumes lead to a lower rate of rejection when decisions are based on the resume alone. Specific and defined shidduch resumes are rejected all too often for being perceived as rigid and inflexible. When reviewing a resume, don’t jump to conclusions.

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Reports from References are (Mis)Interpreted

Not only are “shidduch resumes” misleading, reports from references can be giving a wrong picture. Yismach clients were asked whether the references provided accurate information and over 43% said no. Providing references and calling references and others before a date is a relatively new development historically. There is good reason to believe that this is counter-productive.

The Vividness Criterion

The way that a reference describes the one in shidduchim has disproportionate impact on the decision of whether there will be a first date. Specifically, information that is vivid, concrete, and personal has a greater impact on our thinking than pallid, abstract information. Events that people experience personally are more memorable than those they only read about. Concrete words are easier to remember than abstract words, and words of all types are easier to recall than numbers. In short, information having these qualities is more likely to attract and hold our attention. It is more likely to be stored and remembered than abstract reasoning or statistical summaries, and therefore can be expected to have a greater immediate effect as well as a continuing impact on our thinking in the future.

Personal anecdotes, actual accounts of people’s responsiveness or indifference to information sources, and controlled experiments can all be cited ad infinitum "to illustrate the proposition that data summaries, despite their logically compelling implications, have less impact than does inferior but more vivid proof." It seems likely that shadchanim and those in shidduchim assign excessive weight to anecdotal information.

Absence of Proof

Rav Yisrael Gans, Rosh Yeshiva of Kol Torah delineates the parameters of what a reference is allowed to say, stresses the importance of the reference to report what they personally know.

In making a determination of shidduch appropriateness analysis, it is probably more difficult to recognize that important information is absent and to incorporate this fact into judgments on the shidduch.

As an antidote for this problem, those in shiduchim should identify explicitly those relevant variables on which information is lacking, consider alternative hypotheses concerning the status of these variables, and then modify their judgment and especially confidence in their judgment accordingly. They should also consider whether the absence of information is normal or is itself an indicator of unusual activity or inactivity.

In other words it is not only what the reference does report, but what the references do not report that is important to consider. However, the absence of proof is not proof of the absence.

Coping with Proof of Uncertain Accuracy

There are many reasons why information often is less than perfectly accurate: misunderstanding, misperception, or having only part of the story; bias on the part of the ultimate source; distortion in the reporting chain from subsource through source; or misunderstanding and misperception. Further, much of the proof the references bring to bear is retrieved from memory, but references often cannot remember even the source of information they have in memory let alone the degree of certainty they attributed to the accuracy of that information when it was first received.

The human mind has difficulty coping with complicated probabilistic relationships, so people tend to employ simple rules of thumb that reduce the burden of processing such information. This is called a "best guess" strategy. Such a strategy simplifies the integration of probabilistic information, but at the expense of ignoring some of the uncertainty. If references have information about which they are 70- or 80-percent certain but treat this information as though it were 100-percent certain, judgments based on that information will be overconfident.

A more sophisticated strategy is to make a judgment based on an assumption that the available proof is perfectly accurate and reliable, then reduce the confidence in this judgment by a factor determined by the assessed validity of the information. For example, available proof may indicate that an event probably (75 percent) will occur, but the shadchan cannot be certain that the proof on which this judgment is based is wholly accurate or reliable. Therefore, the one in shidduchim reduces the assessed probability of the event (say, down to 60 percent) to take into account the uncertainty concerning the proof. This is an improvement over the best-guess strategy but generally still results in judgments that are overconfident when compared with the mathematical formula for calculating probabilities.

The reference limiting his reporting only what was personally witnessed are the only facts that should be relayed and those in shidduchim should discount all reports that are not personal knowledge.

Persistence of Impressions Based on Discredited Proof

References that relay false information damage not only the chance that an otherwise perfect fit will not get to meet each other, but can destroy the relationship being built because the false information has persistent effect even after the false information has been discredited. Impressions tend to persist even after the proof that created those impressions has been fully discredited.

A speculative explanation is based on the strong tendency to seek causal explanations. When proof is first received, people postulate a set of causal connections that explains this proof. In the experiment with suicide notes, for example, one test subject attributed her apparent success in distinguishing real from fictitious notes to her empathetic personality and the insights she gained from the writings of a novelist who committed suicide. Another ascribed her apparent failure to lack of familiarity with people who might contemplate suicide. The stronger the perceived causal linkage, the stronger the impression created by the proof.

Even after learning that the feedback concerning their performance was invalid, these subjects retained this plausible basis for inferring that they were either well or poorly qualified for the task. The previously perceived causal explanation of their ability or lack of ability still came easily to mind, independently of the now-discredited proof that first brought it to mind.Colloquially, one might say that once information rings a bell, the bell cannot be unrung.

The ambiguity of most real-world situations contributes to the operation of this perseverance phenomenon.

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Pictures are Misleading

First impressions

Although some claim they can tell personality traits from facial features, the master`s thesis of the Director, Reb (Prof.) Neumann shows the flaws in this. In his study, he took pictures of students in a college who shared a residence for 3 years, then seniors in college. The students rated each other on 20 personality traits. He then showed these pictures to groups of other students who attended a different university which was 40 miles away and each student rated the person in each picture on the same 20 personality traits.

What he then did was take these pictures to an employee of the police department who is hired to draw composite sketches and using his criteria broke down the faces of those people in the pictures and each feature was rated by this expert.

What he hoped to find was empirical validation of the basis of first impressions. He wanted to know how much agreement there was by people who knew them well by living together for 3 years and know how much agreement there was by people rating others by their picture alone. (Reliability) He wanted to see how much agreement there was on ratings of people they know well and ratings based on picture alone – or how valid was first impressions. He then wanted to find how these first impressions are deduced from facial features.

What he found in his thesis (later published in professional journals), was that there was very high reliability quotients in both groups, meaning that there was a great deal of agreement on all 20 personality traits of each person rated. To oversimplify, 9 out of 10 students who rated the person by picture alone agreed and 9 out of 10 of the students who lived together for 3 years agreed. However, there was wide discrepancies in ratings of each trait between the two groups.

First impressions are reliable but not valid.

What this means is that your first impressions of someone and another person`s first impressions of that same person will be highly similar. And if you both got to know this person over a long time, you both also would agree. And in retrospect if you looked at your first impressions, you both would agree that they were false.

If by looking at a picture there was such high agreement, Neumann tried to discover what facial features were associated with the personality perceptions. Running every factor analysis statistic known at the time (1970s) there were no connections between facial features – individually or in combination with other features which was at all connected to rating of any one of the personality traits rated on the picture.

His study and many others lead to the conclusions that it is a grave mistake for clients to look at a picture and make a decision based on the picture alone. Shadchanim often get the response "She is not my look" as a reaction from singles who are in shidduchim for decades and reinforces the findings of Neumann`s master`s thesis.

Yismach is there to help "old fashioned" shadchanim who take the time to get know the clients. It is not a dating site where possibilities are just a click away. On Yismach we have the picture only because shadchanim want to remember who they met and to recognize them if they see them again months later.

Pictures to see if they are attracted

It is a trap to seek "objective" beauty which does not exist. It is also self-defeating to trust first impressions.

Some argue that they need to see pictures to see if they are attracted. To dispel this point, in a study published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, what Reb (Prof.) Neumann did is give male college students 8x10 photographs of females’ faces and the students rank ordered them in terms of physical attractiveness. Then the student was hooked up to EKG and GSR monitors and was told that he would be shown slides of pictures and to just sit back in the comfortable reclining armchair. While the photos where shown they could hear what sounded like an EKG monitor beeping their heart rate. The heart rate however was false feedback so that with some pictures the heart rate accelerated and others no change.

They were then shown photographs of the girls faces mixed in with other photos and asked to separate those they recognized seeing before. They then were asked to rank order those same pictures which they originally rank ordered.

The order of pictures changed. Instead of being the same as the original rank ordering, they rank ordered them based on the false feedback. So that their physical attractiveness changed.

The point is that it is not just personality perception from faces that is not valid but also physical attractiveness can be modified.

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Shadchan Distortions

There is a type of distortion that the shachan can inadvertently induce. This is the observer-expectancy effect (also called the experimenter-expectancy effect, expectancy bias, observer effect, orexperimenter effect) is a form of reactivity in which a researcher`s cognitive bias causes them to unconsciously influence the participants of an experiment. Other prominent examples include facilitated communication and dowsing.

The Shadchan must interview the person from an unbiased position, rather than show the client their own opinions and influence what they will say they are looking for or their description of themselves. A client who expects the shadchan to hold certain opinions and values will distort their own opinions and values to match those of the interviewee and find them favorable.

Distinction Bias From Suggesting Multiple Offers

Suggesting multiple suggestions at a time might seem to “level the odds” of success, but counter intuitively, this is not true.

Distinction bias, a concept of decision theory, is the tendency to view two options as more distinctive when evaluating them simultaneously than when evaluating them separately. Research shows that evaluation mode affects the evaluation of options, such that options presented simultaneously are evaluated differently from the same options presented separately.

In general terms the more alternatives, the less likely any one will be chosen, Barry Schwartz summarized his research in The Paradox of Choice.

Bottom line, less is more. The minhag of giving only one suggestion at a time should be adhered to. When starting to date, and a shadchan calls, they should be told that there is currently someone in the picture. That is specifically why Yismach set up the “available-unavailable” lever right under the client’s picture so that shadchanim do not sabotage the current date. Suggesting someone while they have other offers on the table may lead people to reject a shadchan’s offer as they are compared to others suggested.

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False Impressions from the Date

There are more biases and distortions that also distort their reactions to the other in an initial meeting.

Leveling and sharpening are two contrasting automatic functions within our memory. Sharpening is the tendency to retroactively add vivid details in the retelling of self-experienced - and retold stories. Leveling is our tendency to exclude and tone down parts of stories in memory and to fill in memory gaps. When they come back from the date, if they first call the shadchan as they are returning from the date, the memory is fresh and details more accurate. However, if they first discuss it with their mother, then father, then Rav, then 2 or 3 best friends, and then a day later call the shadchan, their reports of the date will be distored by either Sharpening (retroactively adding vivid details in the retelling of the date) or Leveling (excluding and toning down parts of the memory of the date and filling in memory gaps of the date).

Confirmation bias, also called myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, or remember information in a way that confirms one`s beliefs or hypotheses. People display this bias when they gather or recall information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. Any search for evidence in favor of a hypothesis is likely to succeed.

So – in theory – when first meeting someone – if there are preconceptions, then the person is evaluated in accordance with the preconception with a tendency to confirm the preconception. Some research shows that dating someone you know nothing about is likely to be more successful that dating someone who you were given detail before the date.

Peak–end rule

A shadchan suggests two people that agree to go out. The first date didn’t go well. The shadchan pushes for a second date. This time for the second date they both report back that it was great. However, on the third date, they decide to end it. Confused, the shadchan wonders: what happened?

Similarly, a couple goes out for several dates, and it seems that it is going very well. All of the sudden, they both report after another date that it was terrible and break off the shidduch.

What happened?

The peak–end rule is a theory that describes how humans hedonically evaluate past experiences. This heuristic process leads people to judge an experience by its most intense point and its end, as opposed to the total sum or average of every moment of the experience. It occurs regardless of whether a ‘peak’ is pleasant or unpleasant, and regardless of the duration of the experience. When people date, they tend to rehearse and remember that single moment of disagreement when the rest of the date went well, or alternatively, an intensely fun or funny moment, even though the rest of the time it was not. They will then relay to the shadchan whether the date was pleasant or not.

Choice-supportive bias

In cognitive science, choice-supportive bias is the tendency to retroactively ascribe positive attributes to an option one has selected. It is a cognitive bias. For example, if a person buys a computer from Apple instead of a computer (PC) running Windows, he is likely to ignore or downplay the faults of Apple computers while amplifying those of Windows computers. Conversely, he is also likely to notice and amplify advantages of Apple computers and not notice or de-emphasize those of Windows computers.

Biased memory

Even if people gather and interpret evidence in a neutral manner, they may still remember it selectively to reinforce their expectations. This effect is called "selective recall", "confirmatory memory" or "access-biased memory".

The "Seven Sins" Of Memory: Although we tend to think of our memories as retaining a perfect record of our experiences, human memory distorts in these seven ways, documented by Daniel Schacter:

  1. Transience: Memories fade over time.
  2. Absent-mindedness: Lapses of attention cause us to forget temporarily.
  3. Blocking: When conflicting demands are placed on our memory, they may interfere with each other and block recall. The word may make it to the tip of your tongue but no further.
  4. Misattribution: Memories are retrieved, but they are associated with the wrong time, place, or person.
  5. Suggestibility: Memory is distorted to agree with a suggested result. See "suggestive context" above.
  6. Bias: Memory is distorted by our own attitudes, beliefs, emotions, point-of-view, or experiences.
  7. Persistence: Sometimes unwanted memories cannot be put out of mind.
Persistence of discredited beliefs even after initial dates

A common finding is that at least some of the initial belief persists even after it is discredited.

Confirmation biases can be used to explain why some beliefs persist when the initial evidence for them is removed. In shidduchim people never recover from false negative reputations. A rumor about a shidduch is proven to be false, yet the negativity remains. Conversely, a shadchan(it) not involved in the shidduch says “i don’t see it” or friends or teachers question the potential match in terms of intelligence, religiousness, “openness” the negative effect remains even after they meet the person and are certain that the others falsely labeled them, the negative belief persist. Conversely, someone may consistently select a type which is bad for them because of persistence of discredited belief of what others told them is what they should be looking for.

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Factors That Underline Attraction


Research has demonstrated that familiarity typically promotes attraction, to the point where even mere exposure to a person increases liking. However, at times, mere exposure works in the opposite direction when that additional exposure reveals negative characteristics of the object or person in question—a conclusion supported by another recent study of online dating.

In this research, Michael Norton and colleagues (2007) gave a survey to participants both before and after going on a date. Pre-date, all that participants knew about their partner was what they had read on a Web site profile, so their ratings of how much knowledge they had about their partner increased post-date. But their ratings of how much they liked their partner decreased after the date, as did perceptions of how similar they were. Why? Because the more familiar participants became with their partner during the date, the more they realized that their initial impression (based on an ambiguous dating Web site profile) was not that accurate. As they obtained additional information during the date itself, they came to appreciate all the ways in which they were actually dissimilar to this person, which in turn decreased average liking ratings.

Some evidence indicates that matching is driven more by rejecting dissimilar others than by liking similar others. In fact, as people get to know each other and find out about dissimilarities, liking goes down. Most people believe that the more they know about someone, the more they like that person—but in reality, they tend to like someone less as they learn more. They start off assuming the other person will be similar. But once they find some dissimilarities, these seem to multiply, so that new evidence confirms dissimilarity and reduces liking. In an online dating study, researchers found, sure enough, that after the date was over people knew more about the dating partner but liked him or her less than previously


One powerful predictor of whether any two people are friends is sheer proximity. Proximity can also breed hostility; most assaults and murders involve people living close together. But much more often, proximity prompts liking. Mitja Back and his University of Leipzig colleagues (2008) confirmed this by randomly assigning students to seats at their first class meeting and then having each make a brief self-introduction to the whole class. One year after this one-time seating assignment, students reported greater friendship with those who just happened, during that first class gathering, to be seated next to or near them.

Though it may seem trivial to those pondering the mysterious origins of romantic love, sociologists long ago found that most people marry someone who lives in the same neighborhood, or works at the same company or job, or sits in the same class, or visits the same favorite place (Bossard, 1932; Burr, 1973; Clarke, 1952; McPherson & others, 2001). In a Pew survey (2006) of people married or In long-term relationships, 38 percent met at work or at school, and some of the rest met when their paths crossed in their neighborhood, church, or gym or while growing up.

With repeated exposure to and interaction with someone, our infatuation may fix on almost anyone who has roughly similar characteristics and who reciprocates our affection.

Anticipation of Interaction

Proximity enables people to discover commonalities and exchange rewards. But merely anticipating interaction also boosts liking.

How good that we are biased to like those we often see, for our lives are filled with relationships with people whom we may not have chosen but with whom we need to have continuing interactions—roommates, siblings, grandparents, teachers, classmates, co-workers. Liking such people is surely conducive to better relationships and to happier, more productive living.

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After the First Date: Variabales Affecting Relationship Enhancement

Getting past the first two dates the process of getting to know each other begins, getting past first impressions. There are variables that distort thinking even at this stage.

Overgeneralization: The common example of the more general fallacy of basing a conclusion on unrepresentative evidence, it is incorrect to arrive at a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. Consider a broad range of representative evidence before drawing a conclusion. Consider systematic evidence, and dismiss anecdotal evidence. Each sample can be accurately interpreted only when all the samples are integrated to create a representative whole. From the first date on, there will be expectations of each other which will invariably be overgeneralizations. Keep an open mind and be mindful of this distortion.

Polarized Thinking (false choice, dichotomy, primal thinking, false dilemma, black and white thinking): This is the fallacy of thinking that things are either black or white, good or bad, all or nothing. This fallacy can lead to rigid and harmful rules based on primal thinking when it is efficient to compress complex information into simplistic categories for rapid decision making during times of stress, conflict, or threat. Polarized thinking can also lead to unhelpful forms of perfectionism. The reality often lies in the sizeable middle ground between these extreme poles. Recognize and reject the false dichotomy. False dichotomies are harmful because they distract us from the many alternatives that could provide creative solutions or help us constructively resolve conflict. False dichotomies confuse complements with opposites. Keep in mind that most dimensions in a relationship are a continuum and expect variability rather than irrationally end it.

Pattern Discernment: We may think we see a pattern that isn`t there; the outcomes are simply the result of random events. Or we can think we recognize a pattern that is different from what we actually see. We may also fail to recognize a pattern that is present. Relationships work best for most where there is room for spontaneity and room for variability. For others, predictability is most important so pattern recognition will be more important for them.

Catastrophizing: You anticipate an unreasonable disaster based on a small problem. Every scrap of bad news turns into an inevitable tragedy. It is the error of using a personal, pervasive, and permanent explanatory style despite contrary evidence. This is another example of the more general fallacy of basing a conclusion on unrepresentative evidence. Consider a broader range of representative evidence before drawing a conclusion. Strike a realistic balance between optimistic and pessimistic views. Most important, when dates are not what you hoped, it is not catastrophic nor is ending it and starting with another.

Fallacy of Change: It is unrealistic to believe you can change other peoples` nature, personality, deeply ingrained habits, or strongly held beliefs. Be realistic about what you can change and what you cannot. Those who seek the “diamond in the rough” are doomed for disappointment.

Being Right (denial): Dogmatically holding onto an opinion, belief, or defending an action can be a destructive result of stubborn pride. Denial is a failure to acknowledge evidence. Even if you believe you are right, decide if you would rather be right or be happy. Don`t waste time pursuing the fallacy of change described above. Examine your sense of justice and the assumptions you are making. Gather evidence to make an informed decision, but even if you are right, it may not be a battle worth fighting

Cognitive Dissonance: Tension between thoughts and actions inconsistent with those thoughts. A tense and uncomfortable contradiction exists unless your actions support your thoughts and beliefs. To close the gap and relieve this tension humans often revise their thoughts to support their actions. People who cannot stop smoking convince themselves that smoking is good. They highlight the relaxation, autonomy, sophistication, weight control, and maturity symbolized by smoking. They certainly don`t emphasize the health risks, expense, and filth created by the habit they cannot escape. Irrevocable bad decisions are similarly defended. People who bought the wrong car, lost money in the stock market, went on a disappointing vacation, or got a bad haircut spontaneously invent clever defenses for the actions they are now stuck with. What is remarkable is how strongly we believe these self-justifying stories when we make them up ourselves.

Just World Theory: The mistaken belief that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. This is sometimes used as an excuse to blame the victim; "he got what he deserves." Approach a shidduch as an issue of fit rather than "good" or "bad".

Asch Effect: People often change their opinions to agree with the majority, despite the presence of clear contrary evidence. Experiments conducted by Solomon Asch demonstrated the effects of group pressure on the modification and distortion of individual judgment. Experimental subjects often modified their judgment or estimate of an observation to conform to the majority opinion of a group. Be careful of being deceived by the consensus of opinions of a particular shidduch. Deciding to move forward or end a relationship for the sake of conformity is a grave mistake.

Stereotypes: Human memory is organized into schema which are clusters of knowledge or a general conceptual framework that provides expectations about events, objects, people, and situations in life. This attribute of memory leads us to rely on stereotypes. These are simplified and standardized conceptions or images held in common by members of a group. While stereotypes are an essential feature of human memory, they can cause problems when the attributes associated with the group are incorrectly extended to an individual. Be clear-sighted. Of course there will be cultural norms from various backgrounds, such as yekkie, Hungarian, Russian, or specific Middle East countries. But consider the individual.

Sunk Cost Fallacy: Because sunk costs are already spent and cannot be recovered, it is irrational to consider the value of sunk costs when considering alternative actions. Future actions cannot reverse past losses. Economics and business decision-making recognize sunk costs as the costs that have already been incurred and which can never be recovered to any significant degree. Economic theory proposes that a rational actor does not let sunk costs influence a decision because past costs cannot be recovered in any case. This is also called the bygones principle; let bygones be bygones. This recognizes that you cannot change the past. The fallacy of sunk costs is to consider sunk costs when making a decision. Sound business decisions are based on a forward-looking view, ignoring sunk costs. Unfortunately human beings continue to value a past investment of money, effort or some intangible quality (e.g., “credibility” or “face”) independent of the investment`s probability of paying future dividends. The irrelevance of sunk costs is a well-known principle of business and economics, but common behavior often ignores this fallacy of trying to undo the past. For example, revenge is an attempt to recover the sunk costs that represent some past and irrevocable harm or loss. People falsely reason “I have too much invested to quit now” when it is rational to only look at the future prospects of the activity. Arguing that “we must continue to fight to honor those who have already died” is another tragic but appealing fallacy of sunk costs. In shidduchim, because you invested excessive effort does not justify continuing with someone you simply are not compatible with where there are irreconcilable differences. On the other hand, once you commit, then you do whatever has to be done to sustain and enhance a relationship.

Mere Exposure Effect: People prefer objects they have been previously exposed to, even if that exposure was so brief they do not recall it. Feelings apparently come first. Affect—our subjective feeling about something—precedes and strongly influences our cognitive judgments about what we like and don`t like. Quite often a statement such as: “I decided in favor of X” is no more than an after-the-fact justification—a confabulation—for the vague feeling that: “I liked X.” Most of the time information collected about alternatives serves us less for making a decision than for justifying it afterward. Advertisers exploit this effect when they get you to prefer their product simply because you have seen it first or more often.

Attribution theory: You conclude, incorrectly and without considering other alternatives or testing your assumptions, that you understand how another person is thinking and what their reasons and motives are for taking a particular action. This is an example of the fundamental attribution error where you incorrectly attribute an action or intent to an agent. One example of this is drawing a negative conclusion in the absence of supporting information. Focusing only on evidence that supports a negative position, while neglecting to consider alternative positive explanations is the fallacy of not considering representative evidence.

It is a fallacy to believe you can correctly know a person`s intent for behaving as they do. Their actions may or may not be deliberate. The person may not even be aware of what they are doing. Their actions may or may not be directed at you. Their actions may have unintended consequences or may result from an accident or chance. We judge others based on behavior and we judge ourselves based on intent. It is difficult to determine cause when only effect can be observed. This error is so common and so misleading it has been named the Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE). In short, you can never be sure why someone does something, and often the “why” is more important than the “what”. Be aware of this, challenge your assumptions that the intent was negative and give the other the benefit of the doubt and keep up your capacity to forgive. Good relationships seem effortless, but they maintain mutual respect by positive thinking.

Summary: To summarize, our thinking is the result of our own perception, judgment, experience, and bias. Our brain distorts reality to increase our self-esteem through self-justification. People perceive themselves readily as the origins of good effects and reluctantly as the origins of ill effects. We present a one-sided argument to ourselves. During times of stress, overload, or threat, we often resort to a simplistic form of thinking, called primal thinking that incorporates many of these fallacies. It is essential to bear in mind that these distortions and biases exist throughout the shidduch process, and prevent suitable shidduchim from actualizing.

Yismach constantly seeks ways to improve the facilitation of shidduchim, whether through tefillos at Kivrei Tzadikim, or through the utilization of smart technology.

In a further effort in expediting shidduchim, the research cited suggest that deciding who one marries is an emotionally charged decision which becomes confused by mental biases and distortions in thinking we all are subject to. In shidduchim, for an accurate appraisal it is important to reassess the situation using effortful, valid, thoughtful, and accurate analysis that properly allows for the complexities we face. Employ critical thinking and work to understand what is.

It is only after those in shidduchim are brutally honest with themselves and only after they overcome the “normal” biases and distortions to understand what is can they begin to find that fit, the soul finding its other lost half. With clear-sightedness, the emotional factors which determine a fulfilling, meaningful, satisfying mutual relationship pave the way to tying the knot with that one and only.

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