Albert Moukheiber is a neuroscientist and clinical psychologist. In 2014, he cofounded Chiasma, a think tank studying cognitive biases and raising awareness about them to help us improve our critical thinking, including in decision-making.
According to this researcher, doubt is key when electing one’s study path or future career.
How would you define a “good choice” regarding one’s studies or career?
Some people chose a career and realize they don’t like it. But they are too afraid to change. They stick to the same plan, even though they know they’re not made for it. This isn’t right.
A good choice is one you’re not scared to disavow. You shouldn’t be scared of making mistakes and of correcting them. Making better decisions takes time and experience.
I tried so many things after high school, before starting studying psychology three years later ! For instance, I worked for some time for a network engineering company. Since I was a teenager, I always wanted to work with computers… But when it became my job, I hated it. So I reoriented myself.
I don’t think that it was a waste of time at all because it helped me realizing what I was really interested in.
How to make your own choices, without being influenced by your relatives, teachers or friends?
We are always being influenced, especially in Lebanon where social pressure is strong. But in the end, each and every one of us has his own individual responsibility.
The question to ask yourself is: is this influence good or bad? For instance, let’s say I am more sensitive to environmental issues and I am trying to have you care about it. This is great! On the other hand, if I tell you vaccines can cause deseases to convince your not to have your children vaccinated, this is dangerous.
How to distinguish between these different types of influence? When should you doubt and when should you trust yourself? These are questions at the center of our work at Chiasma. Doubt is certainly as a major decision tool.
How to make the people surrounding you accept your choices?
People’s opinion, for instance your parent’s, is something you can’t control. You can tell them what your choices are but, eventually, it’s theirs to decide what to think of it.
If the issue on which you disagree is very important for them and the stakes aren’t too high for you, compromise is a good solution. I personally do that very often.
On the other hand, they are some things on which I am not ready to give up. And for those important matters, one must learn to go against the current. It’s not about adopting a systematic and stupid distrust attitude it’s just about living your own life the way you want.
*Albert Moukheiber holds a PhD from Pierre et Marie Curie University in Paris and a Master’s in clinical psychology from Paris Descartes university. Before moving to the French capital, at the age of 23, he graduated from a Bachelor’s in clinical psychology from AUB.