Ghassani Swaryandini: How Cognitive Appraisal and Bias Shape Our Decision-Making | Bouncing Back #27

In this episode, host Johanna Wickramaratne is joined by Ghassani Swaryandini, a practicing psychologist and a Teaching Associate at Monash University

Making bad choices can cause a lot of regret and unhappiness in life. Find out how cognitive bias affects your decision-making and why eliminating biases is important to improve your thinking and decisions.

Meet Ghassani Swaryandini

Ghassani Swaryandini is a psychologist in practice, a Teaching Associate at Monash University, and a PhD candidate at Australia’s University of Queensland. Ghassani believes that cognitive bias is a normal aspect of being human. Still, individuals aren’t devoting enough time to learning how to mitigate their biases and enhance their judgment to make better choices.

She became particularly interested in teaching adolescents how to moderate cognitive biases after witnessing how poor career decision-making abilities may harm the well-being of those in her personal life and the clients she works with.

About the episode

In this episode, Ghassani discussed the importance of resilience when an individual experiences a series of life’s unpredictable twists and turns. According to her, adopting practical approaches becomes paramount when facing life’s stressors or unexpected challenges.

Building mental resilience involves exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and refraining from excessive indulgences. Just as physical immunity doesn’t guarantee complete immunity during flu season, mental resilience doesn’t eliminate stress but significantly reduces the likelihood of severe mental health issues.

Ghassani defined cognitive appraisal as the process of interpreting and comprehending a situation. She highlighted that the connection between cognitive appraisal and personal resilience becomes evident when one explores how individuals cope with stressful events. In times of adversity, individuals often succumb to the belief that they deserve the negative experiences. This thought pattern, rooted in cognitive appraisal, can significantly impact resilience. 

Ghassani shared that 90% of her clients grapple with the dichotomy of all-or-nothing thinking, particularly in crucial career choices. The common dilemma arises: follow personal dreams against familial expectations or succumb to parental decisions entirely. Individuals can explore a spectrum of options, such as delving into job market trends, exploring emerging opportunities, and considering factors beyond traditional choices.

Cultural values often dictate the path individuals are expected to tread, whether continuing family legacies or adhering to parental decisions. It presents a challenge, particularly for young people torn between following their dreams and honoring cultural expectations. Striking a balance becomes paramount, necessitating a nuanced approach to decision-making.

Before the episode ends, Ghassani unfolds a way to release and process emotions. Individuals can develop a healthier relationship with their emotional landscape by allowing emotions to surface and dissipate. This, in turn, fortifies resilience, enabling a more adaptive response to challenges.

In conclusion

Cognitive appraisal serves as a cornerstone in the development of personal resilience. Proactively pursuing information, exploring diverse options, and collaborating in brainstorming sessions contribute to a resilient approach to decision-making, paving the way for a future shaped by informed choices.

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