13 cognitive biases that screw things for you


Let’s explore some
of the most common types of cognitive biases that entrench themselves in our
lives. Awareness is the best way to beat these biases, so pay careful attention
to how they influence you.

1. The decoy effect. This occurs
when someone believes they have two options, but you present a third option to
make the second one feel more palatable. For example, you visit a car lot to
consider two cars, one listed for $30,000 and the other for $40,000. At first,
the $40,000 car seems expensive, so the salesman shows you a $65,000 car.
Suddenly, the $40,000 car seems reasonable by comparison. This salesman is
preying on your decoy bias – the decoy being the $65,000 car that he
knows you won’t buy.

2. Affect heuristic. Affect
heuristic is the human tendency to base our decisions on our emotions. For
example, take a study conducted at Shukutoku University, Japan. Participants
judged a disease that killed 1,286 people out of every 10,000 as being more
dangerous than one that was 24.14% fatal (despite this representing twice as
many deaths). People reacted emotionally to the image of 1,286
people dying, whereas the percentage didn’t arouse the same mental imagery and

3. Fundamental attribution error. This is the
tendency to attribute situational behavior to a person’s fixed personality. For
example, people often attribute poor work performance to laziness when there
are so many other possible explanations. It could be the individual in question
is receiving projects they aren’t passionate about, their rocky home life is
carrying over to their work life or they’re burnt out.

4. The ideometer effect. This refers
to the fact that our thoughts can make us feel real emotions. This is why
actors envision terrible scenarios, such as the death of a loved one, in order
to make themselves cry on cue and activities such as cataloging what you’re
grateful for can have such a profound, positive impact on your wellbeing.

5. Confirmation bias. Confirmation
bias is the tendency to seek out information that supports our pre-existing
beliefs. In other words, we form an opinion first and then seek out evidence to
back it up, rather than basing our opinions on facts.

6. Conservatism bias. This bias
leads people to believe that pre-existing information takes precedence over new
information. Don’t be quick to reject something just because it’s radical or
different. Great ideas usually are.

7. The ostrich effect. The ostrich
effect is aptly named after the fact that ostriches, when scared, literally
bury their heads in the ground. This effect describes our tendency to hide from
impending problems. We may not physically bury our heads in the ground, but we
might as well. For example, if your company is experiencing layoffs, you’re
having relationship issues or you receive negative feedback, it’s common
to attempt to push all these problems away, rather than to face them head on.
This doesn’t work and simply delays the inevitable.

8. Reactance. Reactance is our tendency to
react to rules and regulations by exercising our freedom. A prevalent example
of this is children with overbearing parents. Tell a teenager to do what you
say because you told them so, and they’re very likely to start breaking your
rules. Similarly, employees who feel mistreated or “Big Brothered” by their
employers are more likely to take longer breaks, extra sick days or even
steal from their company.

9. The halo effect. The halo
effect occurs when someone creates a strong first impression and that
impression sticks. This is extremely noticeable in grading. For example, often
teachers grade a student’s first paper, and if it’s good, are prone to continue
giving them high marks on future papers even if their performance doesn’t
warrant it. The same thing happens at work and in personal relationships.

10. The horn effect. This effect
is the exact opposite of the halo effect. When you perform poorly at first, you
can easily get pegged as a low-performer even if you work hard enough to
disprove that notion.

11. Planning fallacy. Planning
fallacy is the tendency to think that we can do things more quickly than we
actually can. For procrastinators, this leads to incomplete work, and this
makes type-As overpromise and underdeliver.

12. The bandwagon effect. The bandwagon
effect is the tendency to do what everyone else is doing. This creates a kind
of groupthink, where people run with the first idea that’s put onto the table instead
of exploring a variety of options. The bandwagon effect illustrates how we like
to make decisions based on what feels good (doing what everyone else is doing),
even if they’re poor alternatives

13. Bias blind spot. If you begin
to feel that you’ve mastered your biases, keep in mind that you’re most likely
experiencing the bias blind spot. This is the tendency to see biases in other
people but not in yourself.

Bringing It All Together

Recognizing and
understanding bias is invaluable because it enables you to think more
objectively and to interact more effectively with other people.

from my Tumblr blog: ferdifz.tumblr.com, posted on September 23, 2016 at 12:00PM. [direct link]


Author: Ferdi Zebua

For more info visit my WordPress.com blog, my Google+, or my Ello.

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