9 Common cognitive biases that affect our decisions

Common Cognitive bias That Affects All Our Decisions
Table of Contents

    Although all human beings believe that they always make rational decisions and behaviors, the reality is that we are all constantly affected by cognitive errors. These cognitive biases distort the way we perceive and think, affect our beliefs, and influence the decisions and judgments we make every day.

    Sometimes these cognitive errors and biases are pretty obvious, and you may even be able to recognize these biases about yourself or others. However, sometimes these cognitive errors are subtle and almost impossible to detect and observe.

    Why did these cognitive errors occur? First, human attention capacity has limited resources. This means that we can not evaluate all the possible details when thoughts and ideas are formed. For this reason, we often rely on mental shortcuts that speed up our judgment, but sometimes these shortcuts also lead to cognitive biases.

    The following points are 10 examples of the most fundamental cognitive errors that significantly impact how you think, feel, and behave. Join us to learn more about these cognitive errors and how to prevent them.

    1. Confirmatory bias

    “Affirmative bias” includes the tendency to pay more attention to information that confirms our existing beliefs. Individuals often subconsciously pursue information that confirms their beliefs in this cognitive error.

    Examples of this type of bias:

    • Just follow the news and content that confirms your views on war or global warming.
    • Just follow people who share similar comments on social media.
    • Choose news sources that provide narratives in support of your views.
    • Refuse to listen to those who disagree with your views.
    • Failure to consider all facts in a logical and rational way

    There are several reasons why this cognitive error occurs. Just seeking to confirm one’s previous opinions can help reduce the level of mental resources needed to make decisions. It also helps to increase people’s self-esteem by endorsing their beliefs.

    People with two completely opposite perspectives can listen to a story and interpret it with different interpretations to confirm their existing viewpoint. This often shows that affirmative bias leads to prejudice and distancing oneself from the truth.

    The problem with this cognitive error is that it can lead to wrong choices, an inability to listen to dissenting opinions, or even communicate with other people who have different ideas.

    2. Anchor

    Anchoring is a cognitive bias in which the mind relies too much on the first information it receives to make its own decisions. Here are some examples of this cognitive error;

    • The first digit expressed during a trade negotiation on price usually becomes the anchor point on which all subsequent negotiations are based.
    • Hearing a random number can affect completely irrelevant mental estimates.
    • Physicians can also make this cognitive error when diagnosing patients’ problems. For example, a physician’s first impression of a patient often creates an anchor point that can sometimes mistakenly affect their subsequent diagnostic evaluations.

    Although anchor cognitive error is well documented, its causes are not yet fully understood. Some research suggests that the primary port information source may play a role in this cognitive error. Other factors, such as priming and mood swings, also appear to contribute to this type of bias.

    Like other cognitive biases, anchoring can affect the decisions you make every day. For example, it can even affect the cost of your home. But, unfortunately, it can also sometimes lead to wrong choices.

    3. The effect of misinformation

    The effect of misinformation is the effect of memories of events that occurred in itself. For example, a person who has witnessed a car accident or a crime may believe that their memories of that event are pretty straightforward. Still, researchers have found that memory is surprisingly sensitive to even the most subtle environmental influences, and memories can easily be. Be distorted by our minds.

    Examples of this cognitive error are given below;

    • Research has shown that just asking a question about an event can change a person’s memories of what really happened.
    • Watching TV news about an event that the person witnessed can change the way people are reminded of the event.
    • Listening to others talk about a shared memory from their point of view may change your mindset and memory of what happened.

    Several factors may be involved in this phenomenon. For example, new information may be combined with old memories, or in other cases, further information may be used to fill in “gaps” and voids.

    The effect of misinformation can range from trivial things to more serious issues. For example, this may cause you to mistakenly recall what you think happened at work, or it may even lead to the identification of a suspected mistake in some criminal cases.

    4. Actor-observer bias

    Actor-observer bias means the tendency to attribute the reason for doing one’s actions to external factors and influences to attribute the cause of others’ actions to their inner intentions. Of course, how others are perceived and rooted in their actions depends on a variety of variables, but whether we are in the position of an actor or an observer of a situation can have a profound effect on this.

    When it comes to our own actions, we often attribute all our behavior to external factors.

    Examples are given below;

    • The person may complain that they have not been able to attend an important meeting due to the complication of Jetlag and consider himself completely innocent.
    • Someone may say they did not pass the exam because the teacher asked too many conceptual questions outside the book.

    And when it comes to explaining the actions of others, we most likely attribute their behaviors to personality and internal factors. Examples are given below;

    • One of the co-workers did not attend the critical business meeting due to laziness and inadequacy (not because he had a stroke).
    • One of the classmates failed a test because he lacked sufficient accuracy and intelligence (not because all the questions were conceptual or out of the book).

    While many factors may play a role in this cognitive error, a person’s perspective is significant. When we are in an actor position, we can observe our thoughts and behaviors. However, we can not see what they think when it comes to other people. This means that we focus on ourselves on environmental and peripheral factors but attribute the cause of others’ behavior to their internal characteristics.

    The problem is that this cognitive error often leads to misunderstandings. For example, both sides of a situation only blame the other side and never think that many variables may play a role in any event. Moreover, not everything is necessarily related to the other side’s personality traits.

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    5. The effect of false consensus

    The effect of false consensus is a kind of cognitive error by which one overestimates the desire or interest of others in one’s own beliefs, behaviors, attitudes, and values.

    Consider the following examples;

    • Do you think others will share your views on controversial topics with others?
    • Overestimate the number of people who think or agree with you.
    • Believe that most people have similar interests and inclinations as you do.

    Researchers believe that the effect of false consensus occurs for various reasons. First, the people we spend most of our time with, like our family and friends, usually have very similar opinions and ideas. For this reason, we think that our way of thinking is the majority’s opinion, even when we are with people who are not in our family and friends.

    Another primary reason this cognitive error easily deceives us is because believing that other people are like us is good for our self-esteem. In fact, it allows us to feel “normal” and have a favorable view of ourselves.

    This cognitive error can cause people to have a misconception about themselves from the point of view of others. Still, sometimes it can also cause these people to overestimate their opinions and ideas. It also means that we sometimes do not consider the feelings of others when making our decisions.

    6. Halo Error (Halo Effect)

    Aura error means being influenced by a person’s initial perception and generalizing that partial knowledge to everything we know about them in general. This cognitive error, also known as the “stereotype of physical attractiveness” or the “rule that what is beautiful is good,” means that we are affected by people’s aura almost every day.

    Consider the following examples;

    • Thoughtful people who are good-looking are more intelligent, kinder, and more fun than ugly people.
    • Believing that products introduced to the market by attractive people are even more valuable.
    • The idea is that a self-confident political candidate must also be intelligent and worthy.

    One of the factors that may affect the halo error is our tendency to always want our thoughts or ideas to be correct. If our initial impression of a person is positive, we want to prove our assessment is correct. It also helps people avoid cognitive incompatibility, which includes conflicting beliefs.

    This cognitive bias can have a significant impact on the real world. For example, job seekers who are attractive and likable in appearance are more likely to be considered competent, intelligent, and qualified.

    7. Bias of self-service

    Self-service bias is a cognitive error in which people tend to know the cause and credibility of their successes, but the cause of failures is external factors. For example, when you do well in a project, you probably think it’s because you worked hard. But when things go awry, you are more likely to blame bad luck or bad luck.

    A few examples of this type of cognitive error

    • Attribute good grades to being smart or studying hard
    • The notion that your athletic performance is due to practice and hard work.
    • Imagine that you got this job because of your own merit.

    The bias of self-service can be influenced by various factors. For example, research has shown that age and gender play an important role. Older people mainly attribute their success to their own efforts, and in general, men attribute most of their failures to external factors.

    This cognitive error plays an essential role in protecting self-esteem. However, it can often lead to communication errors, such as blaming others for their shortcomings.

    8. Hand solution

    Cognitive error is the solution to the mental tendency to estimate the probability of something happening based on the number of examples that come to mind quickly.

    A few examples of this cognitive error:

    • Looking at several news reports of car theft in your city, you may conclude that such crimes are much more common than ever.
    • You may believe that plane crashes happen more often than they really do because you can easily recall several recent examples.

    This bias is actually a mental shortcut to saving our time for the time we want to set the risk. The problem with relying on this way of thinking is that it often leads to miscalculations and bad decisions.

    For example, smokers who have never seen someone die of smoking-related illnesses may underestimate the risks of smoking. Conversely, if two of your friends and five of your neighbors have leukemia, you may find that the disease is much more common than the statistics show.

    9. Optimistic bias

    Optimism bias is a cognitive error that is an optimistic assessment of the possibility of good things happening and knowing the likelihood of adverse events in life. We are very confident about the potential of good things happening in our lives in this cognitive error.

    For example, we may think that the following adverse events have no effect on our lives;

    • Divorce
    • To lose a job
    • Sickness
    • Death

    The optimism bias is rooted in the cognitive error of the “solution at hand.” Since you can probably think of bad things happening to other people, others will be more affected by the adverse events.

    This tendency can lead to health risks such as smoking, poor nutrition, or not wearing a seat belt. The bad news is that research has shown that it is tough to get rid of optimism.

    However, there is good news. This tendency towards optimism helps to create hope for the future and gives you the hope and motivation to pursue your goals.

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    Final point

    The above cognitive errors are some of the most common cognitive biases, but they are just examples of the many types of cognitive errors that can affect your thinking. These cognitive errors affect many of our thoughts and, ultimately, our decisions.

    Many of these biases are inevitable. In fact, we do not have enough time to evaluate every thought and decision due to the lack of cognitive errors. Nevertheless, understanding these biases is very helpful in considering how they can lead us to make the wrong decisions in life.

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