Can an otherwise rational person be convinced of the consequences of their Automatic Negative Though (ANT) pattern?
So I sent my mom a box of chocolates. I believe it got to her because the delivery service sent me a notice. I called my mom and asked her to check. In the 45 seconds from her getting up, walking to the door, unlocking it, and opening the door, she kvetched with 5 reasons it wasn’t there. Actually, it was there. But it occurred to me that she habitually exhibits automatic negative thoughts and in chronically doing so, probably creates negative emotions/cortisol spike, that feeds back into more negative thoughts (see www.youtube.com/watch?v=55BQVEjCqhU).
And then it occurred to me that she might just be making a cognitive error in mixing up the probability that the package was delivered with the conditional probably that the package was delivered given that she made certain assumptions, errantly justifying this negative thinking. And actually, I have made this exact same kind of mistake (hey, it gets conditioned into you), but upon noticing it, have been able to modify my thinking and am less inclined to have ANTs now.
So lets say probability of getting a package delivered is 75% (so not delivered is 25%). Now lets say than animals can get to the package 25% of the time and in our case 1/2 of those 25% cause the package to be destroyed and 1/2 of those 25% the package shows sign of chewing, but otherwise the contents are fine, so that counts as delivered.
If I asked, what is the chance that the package is there and good, I would say 75%. Easy peasy.
But where I think people with ANTs are going wrong is that they presume something and then ask the question, what is the chance that the package is delivered given that “I know the animals got to it”. So what is P(good package delivered | animal got to it). When I use Bayes or Venn diagram it, I get 50% (hopefully I didn’t screw that up).
And so they have pessimistically reduced what should have been good chance (75%) down to a 50% chance because they have reflexively started with a negative assumption.
I don’t know where Im going here, but it just seemed like an interesting intersection between personal psychology and probability and might help guide an otherwise rational person to understand the downside of their thinking patterns (or I could have her just try to watch the YouTube video…)