May 19, 2016

23 Cognitive biases, heuristics and effects

One of the ways we can counter irrational beliefs is by informing ourselves about some well documented cognitive biases, heuristics and effects which all to some extent skew are perception of reality, usually without us being aware of it. I'll keep my explanations brief because it is quite easy to learn more about each of these biases, heuristics and effects by googling them.
  1. Availability heuristic: The easier examples of a certain kind of events can be remembered (for instance a terroristic attack) the more we are inclined to overestimate the commonness and prevalence of these events.
  2. Backfire effect: when people notice that their most cherished untrue beliefs are criticized they can become more closed minded about them and their confidence in the beliefs can become stronger.
  3. Belief bias: When people thing that a claim is true they are more likely to view arguments in favor of this claim as logical regardless of whether they are logical. 
  4. Choice architecture effect: The way in which options are presented strongly influences how we are inclined to choose.
  5. Cognitive dissonance: The phenomenon that a conflict between certain beliefs on the one hand and certain behaviors of choices on the other hand creates a psychological tension of which we want to get rid. In order to do this, usually we will not change our beliefs but rather (unconsciously) change our behavior or our memory of our behavior.
  6. Confirmation bias: We tend to mainly look for and notice information which supports our pre-existing beliefs. Also we remember this type of information easier.
  7. Curse of knowledge: Once you have certain knowledge it will be hard to remember or imagine what it is like to lack this knowledge.
  8. Dunning-Kruger effect: The phenomenon that ignorant or incompetent people do not know and can not know to some extent how ignorant and incompetent they are.
  9. Effort heuristic: The belief that when we put in a lot of effort into something this must be valuable.
  10. Equality bias: the phenomenon that, in teams, more competent team members tend to go along with the confident ignorance of less competent team members (see the Dunning-Kruger effect) by giving their judgments equal weights.
  11. Familiarity heuristic: Our tendency to prefer the familiar to the less familiar. 
  12. Fundamental attribution error: We systematically underestimate the influence of situations on our behavior and overestimate the influence of personal factors on our behavior.
  13. Hindsight bias: The too strong tendency to think after an event has happened that it was predictable that it would happen.
  14. Hyperactive agency detection: Our exaggerated tendency to assume that there are intentional agents behind events.
  15. Naive realism: The misguided belief that reality is exactly as we perceive it.
  16. Negativity bias: The phenomenon that we notice negative information more easily and to assign it more weight than positive information.
  17. Pygmalion effect: The effect that expectations of teachers unconsciously affect students' performance and development in the direction of the expectation. 
  18. Reactance effect: The phenomenon that we try to defend our own autonomy by resisting messages which we think other people try to persuade us of.
  19. Representativeness heuristic: Events tend to be judged as more probable when they resemble the prototype of an event than when they resemble that less.
  20. Self-enhancement bias: The phenomenon that people in most cultures believe that they are superior to most other people in that culture.
  21. Self-fulfilling prophecy: Predictions or expectations which affect behavior in such ways that they make themselves come true.
  22. Stereotype threat: The phenomenon that asking people about their ethnicity or sex in a review or test situation can remember them of negative stereotypes about their ethnicity or sex which distracts them and undermines their performance. 
  23. Stereotyping: Attributing a trait to a group of people unfairly or too strongly.

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