Define Cognitive Bias (All You Need To Know & More)

  • By: Phil Taylor
  • Time to read: 11 min.

To Define cognitive bias is the tendency of people to think in certain ways that may not be accurate.

Cognitive biases are often studied by psychologists and other social scientists. They have been used to explain many aspects of human behavior, from voting decisions to the rise of Donald Trump as a political figure and how they influence your daily lives.

We will take a look at the most common cognitive biases below.

The Definition Of Cognitive Bias.

A cognitive bias is a type of mental error that humans make when processing information. These biases can lead people to make judgments that are not based on reality.

There are many different types of cognitive biases, but some of the most common include confirmation bias, sunk cost fallacy, and self-serving bias.

These biases can impact a person’s ability to make decisions, and can even influence the way they see the world. 

13 Common Cognitive Biases.

Sunk Cost Fallacy Bias.

What is sunk cost fallacy and how can we use it to our advantage?

The sunk cost fallacy describes the phenomenon where people will continue to invest in a project, even if its prospects are poor because they have already invested so much money in it.

An example of sunk cost fallacy bias is continuing to buy more shares in a company because they have dropped lower than when you first bought them.

Anchoring Bias.

What is anchoring bias and how can we use it to our advantage?

Anchoring bias is when a person puts too much weight on the first piece of information they receive about a situation. This means that we often make decisions based on the first piece of information we receive, and then get stuck.

An example of anchoring bias would be when you ask for a price for a boat and they say $55k and then you go back a week later and they say $45k, which seems like a deal because you know last week it cost $55k. Your judgment is based on the initial information you received.

On the flip side, you go to buy a boat and the salesperson says it costs $45,000. You go away and think about it, then return the following week and the price has now increased to $55,000. It doesn’t seem like such a good deal anymore because of the anchoring bias.

Availability Heuristic Bias.

What does heuristic bias mean and how can we use it?

Heuristic bias is a tendency to make decisions based on the first information we receive, without considering other factors. In order to use heuristic bias to our advantage, we can dig deeper into the issue with research and ask more questions.

You are more likely to die from a coconut falling on your head than from a terrorist act. It is estimated that you are 130 more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist.

People tend to find out about news and information through popular news channels, tv shows, and other people. They then base their own opinion on the facts they have.

Bandwagon Effect.

What does the bandwagon effect mean and how can we use it?

The bandwagon effect is a social phenomenon. It is the tendency to do things because other people are doing them, even when you don’t want to. People want to be “in” and popular, so they follow the crowd.

For example, “if I told you to jump off a cliff, would you?” If you have heard this, it means that someone is accusing you of bandwagoning and you are a follower, not a leader.

This can also happen in meetings when everyone agrees with each other. When everyone agrees with each other in meetings, it can lead to a lack of creativity and progress. When one person disagrees and offers an alternative suggestion, people are more likely to collaborate and find the best solution.

Choice Supportive Bias.

What is choice supportive bias and how can we use it?

Choice-supportive bias is a type of cognitive bias that leads people to defend their choice, even if they know it was wrong. Choice-supportive bias is also known as post-purchase rationalization. It often occurs when someone has invested a lot of time and effort into making a decision.

For example, if someone purchases an expensive new car, then they will find reasons to justify their purchase.

No one will point out if they made a bad decision.

Confirmation Bias.

What is confirmation bias and how can we use it?

Confirmation bias is the tendency to focus on information that confirms one’s preconceptions and ignore information that disputes it. For example , someone who believes that U.S. President Donald Trump is intelligent might only pay attention to things that praise Trump’s intelligence, while ignoring anything critical of him.

This is often seen in politics and religion, where members hold strong beliefs about a topic or person and are willing to find information supporting those beliefs but ignore any contradicting evidence.

The confirmation bias is one of the hardest to get past and one of the most commonly used when trying to support one’s own narrative.

Ostrich Bias.

What is the ostrich bias and how can we use it?

The ostrich effect is a phenomenon in which people stick their heads in the sand and ignore the negative effects of their behaviour.

The ostrich bias is a term that describes the tendency to avoid an issue of responsibility by ignoring it instead of dealing with the problem. Ostrich bias is often used in our everyday lives.

For example, when we don’t want to think about how much we spend on certain things or if we ignore the negative information that we know will change our opinion or have a negative effect on our life.

Another example of the ostrich bias effect is seen in people who smoke. They know the negative effects, but choose to ignore the health warnings, thinking it won’t damage them or they will stop just in time before any health issues.

If you find yourself stopping looking for negative information about a topic you want to be good then you know you have taken on the ostrich bias.

If you’re thinking this way maybe it’s time for a change?

Outcome Bias.

What is the outcome bias and how can we use it?

The outcome bias is when we believe the result will be a certain way because of how it would’ve been in the past. This bias can be used in order to preserve people’s motivation and they’ll continue to work hard.

You can also look at the outcome bias in another way. People decide whether a certain action is right or wrong based on the outcome.

For example, if you bet $50 on a horse and it lost, you might think, “The odds of that happening were too high.” If you bet $50 on a horse and it won, you might think, “I should have bet more.

The outcome bias is a cognitive bias that occurs when people judge the plausibility of an event based on the outcome. It can be positive or negative.

Overconfidence Bias

What is the overconfidence bias, and how can it be used?

The overconfidence bias is a cognitive bias that causes individuals to overestimate their own capabilities, knowledge and skills. We can use this bias to our advantage when it comes to persuading people. If we have enough confidence in our arguments, the person we are trying to convince will be more inclined to believe what we are saying.

For example, if you buy Bitcoin (BTC) and it goes up, and then you buy Ether (ETH) and it also goes up, you may think that every investment you make will do the same without doing any analysis. This is called overconfidence bias.

Look at the facts instead of what you have achieved in the past to make sure you don’t fall into the trap of overconfidence bias, an easy trap to fall into.

Placebo Bias.

What is the placebo bias., and how can it be used?

The placebo bias is the tendency for people to believe that a treatment will help them if they think it is going to. A common example of this is when people say that a headache gets better after taking a placebo pill – although, in reality, it got better on its own.

The way you think is really important, and it’s been proven time and again. People who think positively tend to have a more positive life and vice versa.

There’s an important link between the way we think and the way our lives turn out. Research has shown that people who think positive thoughts are more likely to have success, while those who have a more negative outlook may have challenges.

When you think positive thoughts, it leads to happiness, which in turn leads to success in many areas of life.

Survivorship Bias.

What is the survivorship bias., and how can it be used?

The survivorship bias is a form of selection bias, which occurs when we estimate the probability of an event by looking at those who have already experienced it and not considering those who did not survive. Survivorship bias can be used to assess how many people are alive at a certain point in time by studying their age.

It is used in investing to help people make investment decisions by seeing what has worked for others and what hasn’t.

It’s hard to know what you don’t know.

Selective Perception Bias.

What is selective perception bias, and how can it be used?

Selective perception bias is the tendency to see only those things that confirm what we already believe and a person’s frame of reference. People tend to overlook what is negative and only focus on the positives.

This can be used in marketing and politics by emphasizing the positives of a candidate or product while downplaying the negatives.

Selective perception bias also causes people to downplay the biases of others which can lead to disagreement and social disharmony.

Blind Spot Bias.

What is the selective blind-spot bias, and how can it be used?

The selective blindness bias is when a person only sees what he/she wants to see. This can be beneficial in some circumstances, such as when people are trying to make themselves look better.

It helps them see the positive qualities and overlook the negative ones. This can be a drawback if they’re not aware it’s happening. People need to be aware of this if they are going to use it in their favour.

The selective blind spot bias is a cognitive bias that causes us to remember the information that confirms our beliefs and forget all other information. This can lead to missing critical data points and can be used for different purposes, such as supporting an argument or making the opponent look bad.

An example of this is when a client is given front row seats for a Chicago Bulls game as a gift. When it comes time to renew their contracts, they choose the company that gave them the tickets.

When asked why they chose the company, they will say they do a good job at a good rate and ignore the fact of the tickets.

When asked if a gift influences other people’s decisions on what company wins contracts, they will say yes of course it does, but they would never do such a thing. Blindspot bias is very real.

Questions And Answers.

What is a cognitive bias? 

A cognitive bias is a type of error in thinking that occurs when people are processing and interpreting information in the world around them. These biases can lead to inaccurate judgments and decisions and can be either positive or negative.

How can cognitive biases impact decision-making? 

Cognitive biases are tendencies to think in certain ways that can lead to inaccurate judgments. They can be divided into three main categories: biases that arise from too much information, biases that arise from too little information, and biases that arise from conflicting information.

Overconfidence is a common cognitive bias that can lead people to make poor decisions.

What are some common examples of cognitive biases? 

Cognitive biases are tendencies to think in certain ways that can lead to inaccurate judgments. For example, common cognitive biases include the confirmation bias (a tendency to seek out information that confirms your existing beliefs), the anchoring bias (a tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information you receive), and the halo effect (a tendency to judge people based on their overall positive or negative impression instead of on specific merits).

 How can you avoid being influenced by cognitive biases? 

There is no foolproof method to avoid all cognitive biases, as they can often be unconscious and therefore difficult to identify and control. However, there are some things you can do to minimize their impact:

  1. Be aware of your own biases. We all have them, and recognizing that you are subject to them can help you avoid letting them influence your decision-making.
  2. Be curious and open-minded. Explore different points of view and look at evidence that contradicts your existing beliefs. This can help you challenge your biases and prevent them from distorting your thinking.
  3. Be thoughtful and deliberate in your decision-making. Take your time, consider all the relevant information, and weigh the pros and cons before coming to a conclusion.

What are the 4 cognitive biases?

Cognitive biases are mental errors in thinking. They are often the result of an individual’s cognitive limitations, emotional state, cultural upbringing, and social context.

  1. Confirmation bias
  2. Hindsight bias,
  3. Framing effect
  4. Anchoring effect.

What is cognitive bias in leadership?

Cognitive bias is the tendency of leaders to make judgments that are based on their own personal experiences and beliefs, rather than on objective facts. This can lead to decision-making that is not in the best interest of the organization or the people it serves.

How do you recognize cognitive bias?

There are a number of ways to recognize cognitive bias. One way is to look for patterns in your thinking that lead you to make judgments that are not based on facts or logic.

For example, if you tend to make decisions based on your gut feeling instead of on evidence, that could be a sign of cognitive bias.

Another way to recognize cognitive bias is to look for situations in which you tend to make judgments that are not in your best interest. For example, if you find yourself repeatedly making decisions that result in losses, that could be a sign of cognitive bias.

Why is cognitive bias a problem in management?

Cognitive bias can be defined as judgments that are made based on inaccurate or incomplete information. In the business world, cognitive bias can lead to bad decision-making, as managers may not consider all of the available information when making a decision.

This can lead to suboptimal outcomes for the business. Additionally, cognitive bias can lead to managers being overconfident in their abilities and judgments, which can lead to them taking unnecessary risks.

How do you combat cognitive bias?

There is no single answer to this question as different people will have different ways of combating cognitive bias, depending on their own personal preferences and experiences.

However, some tips on how to combat cognitive bias may include: being aware of your own personal biases, critically evaluating information before accepting it as true, considering multiple perspectives on an issue, and being willing to change your beliefs if new evidence arises.

How does cognitive bias affect decision-making?

Cognitive bias is a type of error in thinking that occurs when people allow their judgments and biases to affect their decisions. This can lead to bad decision-making, as people may base their choices on inaccurate or incomplete information.

Summary

Define cognitive bias is a mental error or judgement that occurs when people draw conclusions based on their own personal experiences and beliefs instead of facts and evidence.

This can lead to people making inaccurate decisions or judgments about others, situations, and events.

If you enjoyed reading this article, please check out our other articles on persuasion and body language.