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Positive Travel Bias

Lingo Cards

Newly (2018) coined term from Robert Reid @reidontravel: Positive Travel Bias.

We’ll be exploring this further and updating this essay.

Writing in Transitions Abroad, Reid writes:

Of the dozen types of cognitive biases — e.g. “confirmation bias” is the tendency to agree with people who agree with us — there’s one bias that strikes me as potentially useful.

“Observational selection bias” occurs when we experience something new, then start noticing it more often, thus fooling ourselves into thinking the frequency has grown. (This happened to me when I bought a blue Honda Fit last year, now notice them constantly.)

Taken another way, this can become a “positive travel bias.”

When we travel and experience people and cultures different to us, they become familiar and real. When news headlines or blanket politics smear otherwise far-away issues, we increasingly recognize the individual affected. So when political leaders smear all Latin American immigrants as “murderers and rapists,” or even when a traveler calls an innocent local a “bad person,” we recognize it to be unfair, untrue, unjust. (Source)

Love this term! Since my mother purchased a Subaru Forester, this model catches my eye more than any other. Selection bias at work!

Likewise, having traveled to Oaxaca City, Christchurch, Hyderabad … these places are no longer anonymous places on the map. It’s our connections to locations and locals in locations which cultivates a travel bias, in favor of people and place.

Note that while actual travel increases the odds for connection, so do friends who live and work in places yet to be visited firsthand. I will pay attention to Auckland and Athens because of the people I know.

How do we make the most of positive travel bias?

Key Links
Does Travel Make You “Liberal”?
Reid On Travel


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