Cognitive Biases in Judgment and Decision Making

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

There is no person who is truly objective. Each one of us has biases. Some of them are strong biases; some of them are weak #biases. A rare few are conscious biases that we're aware of; the majority are unconscious. The unconscious ones are far more powerful than the ones we are aware of. Here is a list of some of the decision biases:

Ambiguity effect — the tendency to avoid options for which missing information makes the probability seem “unknown"

1) Anchoring or focalism — the tendency to rely too heavily, or “anchor,” on a past reference or on one trait or piece of information when making decisions.

2) Availability heuristic — the tendency to overestimate the likelihood of events with greater “availability” in memory, which can be influenced by how recent the memories are, or how unusual or emotionally charged they may be.

3) Bandwagon effect — the tendency to do (or believe) things because many other people do (or believe) the same; related to group think and herd behavior

4) Belief bias — an effect where someone's evaluation of the logical strength of an argument is biased by the believability of the conclusion

5) Bias blind spot — the tendency to see oneself as less biased than other people, or to be able to identify more cognitive biases in others than in oneself

6) Choice-supportive bias — the tendency to remember one's choices as better than they actually were

7) Cognitive inertia — Unwillingness to change existing thought patterns in the face of new circumstances

8) Confirmation bias — the tendency to search for or interpret information or memories in a way that confirms one's preconceptions

9) Endowment effect — the fact that people often demand much more to give up an object than they would be willing to pay to acquire it

10) Focusing effect — the tendency to place too much importance on one aspect of an event; causes error in accurately predicting the utility of a future outcome

11) Framing effect — drawing different conclusions from the same information, depending on how or by whom that information is presented

12) Hindsight bias — sometimes called the “I-knew-it-all-along” effect, the tendency to see past events as being predictable at the time those events happened

Illusion of control — the tendency to overestimate one's degree of influence over other external events

13) Loss aversion — “the disutility of giving up an object is greater than the utility associated with acquiring it”

14) Negativity bias — the tendency to pay more attention and give more weight to negative than positive experiences or other kinds of information.

15) Optimism bias — the tendency to be over-optimistic, overestimating favorable and pleasing outcomes (see also wishful thinking, valence effect, positive outcome bias)

16) Overconfidence effect — excessive confidence in one's own answers to questions. For example, for certain types of questions, answers that people rate as “99% certain” turn out to be wrong 40% of the time

17) Planning fallacy — the tendency to underestimate task-completion times

Premature termination of search for evidence — People tend to accept the first alternative that looks like it might work

18) Pro-innovation bias — the tendency to reflect a personal bias towards an invention/innovation, while often failing to identify limitations and weaknesses or address the possibility of failure

19) Selective perception — We actively screen-out information that we do not think is important. In one demonstration of this effect, discounting of arguments with which one disagrees (by judging them as untrue or irrelevant) was decreased by selective activation of right prefrontal cortex

20) Semmelweis reflex — the tendency to reject new evidence that contradicts what is already believed. (The term originated from Ignaz Semmelweis, who discovered that childhood fever mortality rates could be reduced tenfold if doctors would wash their hands with a chlorine solution between having contact with infected patients and non-infected patients. His hand-washing suggestions were completely rejected by his contemporaries.)

21) Source credibility bias — A tendency to reject a person's statement on the basis of a bias against the person, organization, or group to which the person belongs. People preferentially accept statements by others that they like.

22) Status quo bias — the tendency to like things to stay relatively the same (see also loss aversion, endowment effect, and system justification)

Subjective validation — perception that something is true if a subject's belief demands it to be true. Also assigns perceived connections between coincidences

23) Choice-supportive bias — remembering chosen options as having been better than rejected options

24) False memory — a form of misattribution where imagination is mistaken for a memory

25) Hindsight bias — the inclination to see past events as being predictable; also called the “I-knew-it-all-along” effect

26) Illusion-of-truth effect — that people are more likely to identify as true statements those they have previously heard (even if they cannot consciously remember having heard them), regardless of the actual validity of the statement. In other words, a person is more likely to believe a familiar statement than an unfamiliar one.

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