Wade‘s put together a nice list of 26 common cognitive biases.
- Bandwagon effect – the tendency to do (or believe) things because many other people do (or believe) the same. Related to groupthink, herd behaviour, and manias. Carl Jung pioneered the idea of the collective unconscious which is considered by Jungian psychologists to be responsible for this cognitive bias.
- Bias blind spot – the tendency not to compensate for one’s own cognitive biases.
- Choice-supportive bias – the tendency to remember one’s choices as better than they actually were.
- Confirmation bias – the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.
- Congruence bias – the tendency to test hypotheses exclusively through direct testing.
- Contrast effect – the enhancement or diminishment of a weight or other measurement when compared with recently observed contrasting object.
- DÃ©formation professionnelle – the tendency to look at things according to the conventions of one’s own profession, forgetting any broader point of view.
- Disconfirmation bias – the tendency for people to extend critical scrutiny to information which contradicts their prior beliefs and uncritically accept information that is congruent with their prior beliefs.
- Endowment effect – the tendency for people to value something more as soon as they own it.
- Focusing effect – prediction bias occurring when people place too much importance on one aspect of an event; causes error in accurately predicting the utility of a future outcome.
- Hyperbolic discounting – the tendency for people to have a stronger preference for more immediate payoffs relative to later payoffs, the closer to the present both payoffs are.
- Illusion of control – the tendency for human beings to believe they can control or at least influence outcomes which they clearly cannot.
- Impact bias – the tendency for people to overestimate the length or the intensity of the impact of future feeling states.
- Information bias – the tendency to seek information even when it cannot affect action.
- Loss aversion – the tendency for people to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains (see also sunk cost effects)
- Neglect of probability – the tendency to completely disregard probability when making a decision under uncertainty.
- Mere exposure effect – the tendency for people to express undue liking for things merely because they are familiar with them.
- Omission bias – The tendency to judge harmful actions as worse, or less moral, than equally harmful omissions (inactions).
- Outcome bias – the tendency to judge a decision by its eventual outcome instead of based on the quality of the decision at the time it was made.
- Planning fallacy – the tendency to underestimate task-completion times.
- Post-purchase rationalization – the tendency to persuade oneself through rational argument that a purchase was a good value.
- Pseudocertainty effect – the tendency to make risk-averse choices if the expected outcome is positive, but make risk-seeking choices to avoid negative outcomes.
- Selective perception – the tendency for expectations to affect perception.
- Status quo bias – the tendency for people to like things to stay relatively the same.
- Von Restorff effect – the tendency for an item that “stands out like a sore thumb” to be more likely to be remembered than other items.
- Zero-risk bias – preference for reducing a small risk to zero over a greater reduction in a larger risk.
A couple of curiosities have come up recently concerning national identity and how it distorts (rightly or wrongly) one’s view of things.
Not sure what “aristocratic kitchens” are – kitchens that the owners never enter? – and I really didn’t know the Swedes still carve Viking longboats at the weekend. Anyway, thought it was interesting as an emergent view of national stereotypes, and how easy it is to recognize rather than agree with them.
Second (and loosely connected) was a letter to the Times published last Friday title “Truth Exchange”. Commenting on an initiative between Agincourt and an English school, one Dr Kerry Bluglass of Warwick wrote
Not long ago, a charming French acquaintance of mine asked me, in all seriousness, about the British habit of naming landmarks after French victories.
“Which ones?”, I inquired.
“Trafalgar Square and Waterloo Station,” he replied. I was completely unable to convince him of the true outcome of these battles, and I later discovered that this view is not unusual in France.”
Popular history, it would seem, might not written by the victors (be they French or British). It could be written by the group you’re in. And that’s a little terrifying.
Funny thing happened on the tube this morning. An Arabic looking bloke carrying a rucksack hopped on at Earl’s Court, and you could feel the whole carriage tense up. This unease and the awkward glances stayed for a couple of stops, until someone he knew spotted him, and the two started chatting. At that point, people visibly relaxed. Much to my shame, myself included.
It’s a horrible feeling, prejudice, however short-lived.