What is Cognitive Bias?
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What is Cognitive Bias?
Tags: Cognitive Bias, Psychology

A cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment. Individuals create their own "subjective reality" from their perception of the input.

The human brain is powerful but subject to limitations. Cognitive biases are often a result of your brain's attempt to simplify information processing. Biases often work as rules of thumb that help you make sense of the world and reach decisions with relative speed.

Because of this, subtle biases can creep in and influence the way you see and think about the world. 

The concept of cognitive bias was first introduced by researchers Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman in 1972. SInce then, researchers have described a number of different types of biases that affect decision-making in a wide range of areas including social behavior, cognition, behavioral economics, education, management, healthcare, business, and finance.

Cognitive Bias vs Logical Fallacy
People sometimes confuse cognitive bias with logical fallacy, but the two are not the same. A logical fallacy stems from an error in a logical argument, while a cognitive bias is rooted in thought processing errors often arising from problems with memory, attention, attribution, and other mental mistakes.

Signs
Everyone exhibits cognitive bias. It might be easier to spot in others, but it is important to know that it is something that also affects your thinking. Some signs that you might be influenced by some type of cognitive bias include;

When you learn making judgments and decisions about the world around you, you like to think that you are objective, logical, and capable of taking in and evaluating all the information that is available to you. Unfortunately, these biases sometimes trip us up, leading to poor decisions and bad judgments.

Types of Cognitive Biases;
Learn more about a few of the most common types of cognitive biases that can distort your thinking:

  1. Actor-Observer Bias: This is the tendency to attribute your own actions to external causes while attributing other people's behaviors to internal causes. For Example, you attribute your high cholesterol level to genetics while you consider others to have a high level due to poor diet and lack of exercise.

  2. Anchoring Bias: This is the tendency to rely too heavily on the very first piece of information you learn. For Example, if you learn the average price for a car is a certain value, you will think any amount below that, is a good deal, perhaps not searching for better deals. You can use this bias to set the expectations of others by putting the first information on the table for consideration.

  3. Attentional Bias: This is the tendency to pay attention to some things while simultaneously ignoring others. For Example, when making a decision on which car to buy, you may pay attention to the look and feel of the exterior and interior, but ignore the safety record and gas mileage.

  4. Availability Heuristic: This is placing greater value on information that comes to your mind quickly. You give greater credence to this information and tend to overestimate the probability of likelihood of similar things happening in the future.

  5. Confirmation Bias: This is favouring information that conforms to your existing beliefs and discounting evidence that does not conform.

  6. False Consensus Effect: This is the tendency to overestimate how much other people agree with you.

  7. Functional Fixedness: This is the tendency to see objects as only working in a particular way. For Example, if you don't have a hammer, you never consider that a big wrench can also be used to drive nails into the wall. You may think you don't need thumbtacks because you have no corkboard on which to tack things, but not consider their other uses. This could extend to people's function, such as not realizing a personal assistant has the skills to be in a leadership role.

  8. Halo Effect: Your overall impression of a person influences how you feel and think about their character. This especially applies to physical attractiveness influencing how you rate their other qualities.

  9. Misinformation Effect: This is the tendency for post-event information to interfere with the memory of the original event. It is easy to have your memory influenced by what you hear about the event from others. Knowledge of this effect has lead to a mistrust of eyewitness information.

  10. Optimism Bias: This bias leads you to believe that you are less likely to suffer from misfortune and more likely to attain success than your peers.

  11. Self-Serving Bias: This is the tendency to blame external forces when bad things happen and give yourself credit when good things happen. For Example, when you win a poker hand it is due to your skill at reading the other players and knowing the odds, while when you lose it is due to getting dealt a poor hand.

  12. The Dunning-Kruger Effect: This is when people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. For Example, when they can't recognize their incompetence.

At times, multiple biases may play a role in influencing your decisions and thinking. For Example, you might misremember an event (the misinformation effect) and assume that everyone else shares the same memory of what happened (the false consensus effect).

Causes of Cognitive Bias
If you had to think about every possible option while making decisions, it would take a lot of time to make even the simplest choice. Because of sheer complexity of the world around you, and the amount of information in the environment, it is necessary sometimes to rely on some mental shortcuts that allow you to act quickly.

Cognitive biases can be caused by a number of different things, but it is these mental shortcuts, known as heuristics, that often play a major contributing role. While they can often be surprisingly accurate, they can also lead to errors in thinking.

Other factors that can also contribute to these biases;

Cognitive Bias may also increase as people grow older due to cognitive flexibility.

Impact of Cognitive Bias
Cognitive bias can lead to distorted thinking. Conspiracy theory beliefs, for example, are often influenced by a variety of biases. But cognitive biases are not necessarily all bad. Psychologists believe that many of these biases serve an adaptive purpose: They allow us to reach decisions quickly. This can be vital if we are facing a dangerous or threatening situation.

For example, if you are walking down a dark alley and spot a dark shadow that seems to be following you, a cognitive bias might lead you to assume that it is a mugger and that you need to exit the alley as quickly as possible. The dark shadow may have simply been caused by a flag waving in the breeze, but relying on mental shortcuts can often get you out of the way of danger in situations where decisions need to be made quickly.

Tips for overcoming Cognitive Bias
Research suggests that cognitive training can help minimize cognitive biases in thinking. Some things that you can do to help overcome biases that might influence your thinking and decision-making include:

Author: thewiki Editorial
What is Cognitive Bias?