Our minds process big chunks of data all the time and they need to decide what information is important for us to keep in working memory and what information should be filtered out.
If the information that our minds work with is not necessary for us, this information is filtered out to save mental capacity.
Mental Biases that Filter What We Should Remember:
Mental Bias: Misattribution Of Memory
Misattribution Of Memory is the cognitive bias relating to the ability to remember information correctly, but being wrong about the source of that information attributing it to an incorrect one.
If you tell someone some interesting fact and you don’t see this person for a couple of weeks, and the next time you see them they tell you the exact fact you told them as if you don’t know it, while you were the one who told them this information in the first place, these people are under the influence of this bias. Sometimes we remember the information but we let the source we attribute to this information fade away from memory, we remember the messages much better than we remember the messengers.
Mental Bias: Source Confusion
Source Confusion is the phenomenon where information that is conjured up during an imagination is stored in our memory and might later be mistakenly recalled as a memory of something that actually happened.
If you were on a party and you got drunk you would most likely forget about most that happened on the party. The next day you would try to remember details and you might imagine something that you though happened, like someone spilling a drink. When you ask your friends and they tell you what generally happened you would include the imagined memory of someone spilling the drink in the complete picture you are putting together from the previous night. However, this memory is not based on reality, it’s imagined.
Mental Bias: Cryptomnesia
Cryptomnesia is a mental phenomenon that occurs when a forgotten memory returns without it being recognized as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original.
If you are told to think of an original way to start a book, or a movie, most likely you would think of something that you would claim is your original idea, but in all probability it will be something you’ve already read or watched but you don’t consciously remember. Our mind picks up 400 Billion bits of information a second but we are only conscious of 2,000 of those, meaning your subconscious mind picks a lot of information that you are not even aware of.
Mental Bias: False Memory
False Memory is a mental phenomenon where a person recalls something that did not happen or they recall it slightly differently from the way it happened.
If you have an apartment and you have keys, you most likely forgot to lock it at some point. You were certain you did, you could have even remembered how you lock the door, but it turned out you didn’t actually lock the door. Another example is to think about the famous moment from Star Wars where Darth Vader tells ‘Luke, I am your father.’ And you probably remember it like this. You are certain it is like this. However, what Darth Vader actually said was ‘No, I am your father.’ But most people remember it as the first example. Another example is Forest Gump, you probably remember the line to be ‘Life is like a box of chocolates’ but you are actually wrong. The real quote is ‘Life was like a box of chocolates.’ But again most people remember it falsely.
Mental Bias: Suggestibility
Suggestibility is the cognitive fallacy of being inclined to accept and act on the suggestions of others where false but plausible information is given and one fills in the gaps in certain memories with false information.
If you are shown a video of a guy hammering a nail and you are given a white paper to describe the video with as much details as you can, the speed and strength of the hammer, the position of the nail, the speed of the hammering, you would be pretty confident in your ability to recall the video you just watched. However, let’s say the people who are giving you the paper say ‘describe the video of the hammer smashing the nail.’ You would most likely recall the hammer to be faster than it was, to hit the nail harder and stronger than it actually did, just because there is the word ‘smashing’ that’s adding to the suggestion. If the people said ‘describe the video of the hammer hitting the nail.’ You would not imagine the hammer hitting as hard, as fast and as strong as in the previous case, just because the word ‘hitting’ is not as strong as ‘smashing’ in this example.
Mental Bias: Spacing Effect
Spacing Effect is the phenomenon whereby learning is greater when studying is spread out over time, as opposed to studying the same amount of content in a single session.
If you learn about a subject, let’s say nutrition, and you study about all topics in one session, like proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy foods, unhealthy foods and healthy recipes, you would not learn as much as if you study for each of the topics in separate sessions. This is because our mind can focus and dive into one topic to learn about it. If there are many different topics, it will just scrape the generalities to save mental energy because diving into all of them in one session is overwhelming for it. For the mind, in one session the main subject becomes the topic and all the chapters in it are the details it should generally remember to know the topic deeply. But if the chapters are separated in different sessions than each chapter becomes the topic the mind can dive into and learn more of as it knows it will have time to recharge after the study session.
Mental Bias: Implicit Stereotypes
Implicit Stereotypes is a mental bias where people attribute particular qualities to a member of a certain social group based on learned associations between particular qualities and social categories.
If you think about asians you would most likely assume they all look alike. If you think about black people you would assume they are good at sports like running. If you think about white overweight males in high corporate positions you would assume they are corrupted leaders. These default associations and generalities are of course, not true for all people who belong in these social categories.
Mental Bias: Prejudice
Prejudice is a mental tendency for a person to have affective feeling towards a person or group member based solely on that person’s group membership.
If you find out that someone is vegan you would assume that they would brag about it or maybe even judge your eating habits, so you might avoid eating together. In reality, these people might not even care about what you eat, nor care to explain why they eat like they eat. You have an opinion about them based on the diet group they belong in and based on the global gossip about the members within this group, you don’t really know them and their characteristics.
Mental Bias: Fading Affect Bias
Fading Affect Bias is a psychological phenomenon in which information regarding negative emotions tends to be forgotten more quickly than that associated with pleasant emotions.
If you experienced something sad in your life the information surrounding the sad event was much broader back then, than it’s now. You most likely don’t even recall much of it, you just know it was sad. And it might not be even that sad anymore. For some, such events might even become funny. However, if something happy and positive happened you most likely remember more information about it still. The information surrounding negative events evaporates faster than the one surrounding the positive events because we naturally want to recreate more positive events. However, unprocessed emotions might still linger within your subconscious mind even if the information around them is gone, the sensations might still be there.
Mental Bias: Peak End Rule
Peak End Rule is a cognitive bias where people judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience.
If you attend a presentation of your favorite professional public speaker about motivation, and they have a long and boring presentation but at the middle of the presentation they rant the best speech of their life for 10 minutes, and they finish the presentation with another strong rant that gives you goosebumps, you would tell everyone who asks you that it was one of their best public speeches ever. You will ignore the boring part of the presentation even if most of the presentation was boring. You’ll do this because of its peak and strong and powerful end. The result is not based on the average sum of the presentation but on how you felt at its peak.
Mental Bias: Leveling And Sharpening
Leveling And Sharpening are mental functions where the way people remember small details is customized and sharpened when telling a story, while some parts of those stories are toned, leveled and excluded.
If you tell a story to a group of friends you would most likely emphasize certain small details for the sake of story telling and exclude some boring parts of the story. However, in some cases these exclusions might completely change the meaning of the story and distort its message.
Mental Bias: Misinformation Effect
Misinformation Effect is a mental fallacy where a person’s recall of episodic memories becomes less accurate because of post event information.
If you participate in a game filled with mystery, let’s say you and your friends need to escape a room full of puzzles within a certain time and you fail, you will have one set of memories about the experience. If you later read about the walkthrough, if you discover the mysteries and ways how to solve the puzzles, and go with another group at the same room, you would most likely solve it. However, now the first set of memory you had about not escaping the room when you still didn’t know how to solve the puzzles, will be slightly distorted. When you recall this set of memories you will not recall it as accurately as before you go to solve the puzzles the second time because the information from the later event will interfere with the unknowingness of the first time you went there.
Mental Bias: Serial Recall Effect
Serial Recall Effect is the tendency of a person to recall the first and last items in a series best, and the middle items the worst as the recall accuracy varies based on the item’s position on the sequence.
If you are given a grocery list and you go through it at home, but when you arrive to the store and want to remind yourself of what you needed to buy you realize you’ve lost the list, it’s most likely that you will just remember the first couple of items and the last couple of items from the list.
Mental Bias: List Length Effect
List Length Effect is a cognitive bias relating to the finding that recognition performance for a short list is superior to that for a long list, it’s consistent with predictions of item noise, not with context noise models.
If you are given a longer list and a shorter one you will remember much more items from the shorter list than from the longer one.
Mental Bias: Duration Neglect
Duration Neglect is the mental fallacy relating to the fact that people’s judgments of the unpleasantness of painful experiences depend very little on the duration of those experiences.
If you were told to put your hand in a painfully cold water for 15 minutes you would report that the experience is highly uncomfortable, let’s say from 1 to 5 you will say it’s 3. However, if you were told to put your hand in the cold water for 10 minutes instead of 15 you would still report the same level of unpleasantness and you would still rate it 3. You will neglect the duration of the experience.
Mental Bias: Modality Effect
Modality Effect is a mental phenomena relating to the case of how the learner’s performance depends on the presentation mode of the studied items.
If you read song lyrics you will remember them much differently than hearing them while playing the song, or seeing the singer how they sing those words. In all three cases your performance for learning will differ in accuracy, time and recall speed. This is because we process visual and auditory information in different areas. The way the information is presented to you determines your performance for learning it.
Mental Bias: Memory Inhibition
Memory Inhibition is the mental phenomenon relating to the fact that while some memories are retained for a lifetime, most memories are forgotten sooner or later.
If you are asked to remember what you ate for breakfast 3 months ago from now you would most certainly have no idea, you’ve forgotten this memory. However, if you are asked to remember when you had your favorite meal for the first time you would most certainly remember it with many details.
Mental Bias: Recency Effect
Recency Effect is the mental phenomenon relating to the fact that the most recently presented items or experiences will most likely be remembered best.
If you read a book, a novel with adventurous story, you will remember the recent events in the novel much better than the events that happened at the beginning of the story even though you remembered them just fine when you were reading those parts, and newest parts will overshadow most of the events you are reading about currently.
Mental Bias: Suffix Effect
Suffix Effect is the selective impairment in recall of the final items of a spoken list when the list is followed by a nominally irrelevant speech item, or suffix.
If you need to remember a list of items and they are spoken to you, but the person who tells you the items suddenly tells something irrelevant between the first and final items of the list, you would find it harder to remember the final items of the list.
Mental Bias: Levels Of Processing Effect
Levels Of Processing Effect is a mental bias relating to the fact that deeper levels of analysis produce more elaborate, longer lasting, and stronger memory traces than shallow levels of analysis.
If you study and analyze a subject for a longer period of time compared to a subject you study quickly, you will remember much better and much longer the subject you studied longer because you invested more mental energy there.
Mental Bias: Absent Mindedness
Absent Mindedness is a mental phenomenon where a person shows inattentive or forgetful behavior due to low level of attention, intense attention to different object or other distractions.
If you walk with three friends and you all speak while walking for various subjects, it’s most likely that during the conversation you will zone out at some point while they keep talking thinking about some irrelevant thoughts. And chances are they do it also while you were talking. This is because our attention is not that strong to be locked in on one continuous subject.
Mental Bias: Testing Effect
Testing Effect is a mental phenomenon relating to the fact that the finding that long term memory is often increased when some of the learning period is devoted to retrieving the to be remembered information.
If you study one day before you have a test, and you try to retrieve the information the night before, you will remember what you’ve studied much better than if you just studied and did not try to test yourself by recalling the information.
Mental Bias: Next In Line Effect
Next In Line Effect is the phenomena of people being unable to recall information concerning events immediately preceding their turn to perform.
If you need to give a public speech and someone seconds before you perform comes to you and tells you something, chances are you would not remember what they said after the performance. This is because high stress situations demand a lot of mental energy and the mind avoids spending energy where it’s not really necessary.
Mental Bias: Google Effect
Google Effect is the tendency to forget information that can be found readily online by using Internet on social media, translators or search engines such as Google.
If you read on the internet about the 10 best foods you should eat daily and if you study about the same subject in school knowing there is no other way to get to this information, you would most likely remember what you’ve studied much better than reading on the internet. This is because our mind knows this information is always available to us and doesn’t waste unnecessary energy to remember it.
Our minds need to generate the best possible decisions for us and sometimes, they need to calculate the result much faster than usual.
This need to generate a quick decision makes our mind to take a defensive stance in favor of ourselves.
This results in false predictions and errors in judgment that skew our perspective of reality.
Mental Biases that Activate When We Need to Act Fast:
Mental Bias: Overconfidence Effect
Overconfidence Effect is a mental bias where person’s subjective confidence in their judgements is reliably greater than the objective accuracy of those judgements, especially when self confidence is high.
If you think of an idea or something else that you would like to remember for later, you would most likely think that your memory is pretty good and that you can recall it. However, if you don’t write this idea you will most likely forget you even thought of it. There are people who think they can sing pretty well, without any real evidence but their self confidence, and they go to shows for singing only to be ridiculed by the reality that they can’t actually sing. Most people think they are stronger than others without any real evidence but their self confidence, and when they get into fights they face the reality that there are people much stronger than them.
Mental Bias: Social Desirability Bias
Social Desirability Bias is the tendency of survey respondents to answer questions in a manner that will be viewed favorably by others. It can take the form of over reporting good behavior or under reporting bad.
If you haven’t taken a shower for a couple of days because you were really busy, and someone speaks to you about how their coworker doesn’t shower and stinks, you would most likely lie about not showering yourself. You will blame your business but the reality is that you were simply lazy enough to not shower.
Mental Bias: Third Person Effect
Third Person Effect is the mental fallacy where people tend to perceive that a third party messages have a greater effect on others than on themselves.
If you hear someone telling you about a thing they heard on the news you would most likely think that this person is more influenced by mass media than you are. However, mass media influences all of us in different ways. For this person might have been the news, but for you it’s most likely wrong expectations from watching movies. However, we overestimate how unsusceptible we are.
Mental Bias: False Consensus Effect
False Consensus Effect is a mental bias where people tend to overestimate the extent to which their opinions, beliefs, preferences, values, and habits are normal and typical of those of others.
If you think that eating meat is normal and everyone who is normal should agree with this, vegan people are not normal for you. You think that your opinions, beliefs, preferences, values, and habits are normal and everyone who does not fit them is not normal, in this case vegans. But who can say if your opinions are normal when everyone thinks their opinions are normal. And if you look at majority of people to generate a norm than many of your own opinions, beliefs, preferences, values, and habits will not be normal.
Mental Bias: Hard Easy Effect
Hard Easy Effect is a tendency to overestimate the probability of one’s success at a task perceived as hard, and to underestimate the likelihood of one’s success at a task perceived as easy.
If you are a contestant on “Who Wants To Become A Millionaire?” You would most likely underestimate your ability to answer the easier questions. However, as the questions get harder you would most likely overestimate your ability to answer these questions correctly.
Mental Bias: Lake Wobegone Effect
Lake Wobegone Effect is a natural tendency to overestimate one’s capabilities and achievements especially in comparison with other people. We see ourselves as better than others.
If you start a new class right now with a new group of people your first mental perception of yourself in comparison to everyone in the class would be as superior. You would see yourself as a better person, as cooler, as stronger, as smarter. Until you befriend with someone, then you will accept them as individuals that are on your level. We tend to do this with strangers because we know ourselves, we know our journey and we have no idea about others’ journey. When we meet them we assume we have been through a lot more than they, so we assume ourselves as better. Just like in a movie, when we meet supporting characters we assume the main character as more important and better than these supporting characters.
Mental Bias: Dunning Kruger Effect
Dunning Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.
If you take a couple of classes of public speaking and you watch some expert give a public speech, you would think that your speech will be close to theirs in terms of quality and delivery. However, this will most likely not be the case. Your speech might be good, you might even give the best public speech you have ever given till then, but it will be far from the ones that the professionals give, the ones you watched. There are subtle things public speakers fight through and need to work on, things you are not aware of before you confront them. And mastering these things takes time and effort. But because you don’t know any of this before you start, you overestimate your ability of giving a speech.
Mental Bias: Egocentric Bias
Egocentric Bias is the tendency to rely too heavily on one’s own perspective or to have a higher opinion of oneself than what the reality actually is.
If you were asked whether you deserve a raise or not, you would most likely give a positive answer. Most people will say they deserve a raise, even if they are conscious of the fact that they might not put in the best work. However, if a mirror was put in front of you and you were asked the same thing, chances are you will be more fair and more real with your answer. Most people will answer fairly. When we are self aware we don’t or rarely succumb to this bias, but every other time we are mostly egocentric in our opinions and decisions.
Mental Bias: Optimism Bias
Optimism Bias is a cognitive bias that causes a person to believe that they are at a lesser risk of experiencing a negative event compared toothed people.
If you start smoking cigarettes you would assume that you are at a lesser risk of getting sick because you smoke. But this is not true. The chances of getting sick because of smoking are the same for you as anyone. Unless you have a clear evidence that your DNA is unaffected by smoking, that you are a different human than most, the chances are the same for you as for any other human.
Mental Bias: Forer Effect
Forer Effect is a psychological phenomenon whereby individuals give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically to them, that are in fact vague and general.
If you go to somebody who claims they can read your personality by looking at your aura you will be skeptical at first. But let’s say you go there and this person who reads auras says that you are a special person, that there is some inner battle within you, that you are anxious and shy but really courageous when you need to be, that you are really self critical and highly judgmental but you can defend yourself when needed, that you were hurt before really bad by someone, and everything you do now cannot really heal you of this emotional hurt, that you are really happy most of the time, but you are also sad and lonely deep inside. You will think that this person followed you your entire life. You will think they can really read your personality based on your aura. But the truth is that these descriptions, even though you think are really personal to you, they are really vague and general in reality.
Mental Bias: Self Serving Bias
Self Serving Bias is any perceptual process that is distorted by the need to maintain and enhance self esteem, or the tendency to perceive oneself in an overly favorable manner.
If you do a test in school and you score a good grade you will tell yourself it’s because you studied hard. However, if you score a bad grade you will tell yourself that it’s because the teacher doesn’t like you, or the test was unfair. Team plying any sport and winning the game will claim it’s because they trained really hard, but if they lose the game most often they blame the referees. Someone being hired will believe it’s because of their qualifications, but the same person not being hired will say that the interviewer didn’t like them very much from the start.
Mental Bias: Actor Observer Bias
Actor Observer Bias is a tendency to attribute one’s own actions to external causes while attributing other people’s behaviors to internal causes.
If you go to a doctor and they say you have a high cholesterol levels you will most likely blame this on genetics, or the environment, you might even blame your finances for not having enough to eat a proper healthy diet. However, if you find out someone else has high cholesterol levels you will most likely blame them for their poor diet and lack of exercise. So when it’s happening to us, it’s outside of our control, but when it’s happening to someone else, it’s all their fault.
Mental Bias: Illusion Of Control
Illusion Of Control is the tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control events. It occurs when someone feels a sense of control over outcomes that they demonstrably do not influence.
If you break up with someone you love you will most likely think it’s all or slightly your fault. You will think if you didn’t say something things would be different. But the truth is that the other person has a say in this too. Maybe the relationship was an issue for them for a reason that’s not you.
Mental Bias: Illusion Of Superiority
Illusion Of Superiority is a cognitive bias whereby a person overestimates their own qualities and abilities, in relation to the same qualities and abilities of other persons.
If you were asked to give a solution to a problem you had faced you will most likely assume your solutions are superior to those of others. But in reality these solutions worked solely for you, and there are expert in the field you are talking about that do countless researches on the topic.
Mental Bias: Fundamental Attribution Error
Fundamental Attribution Error is the concept that people tend to emphasize the character or intention, rather than external factors, in explaining other people’s behavior.
If you see someone who smells really bad because they didn’t shower, you would assume they are weird, that they are too lazy to have a proper hygiene or that something is wrong with them. But you don’t really know if this person didn’t have water at home, or if they fell into a sewer, or they might have even saved an animal that fell within a sewer. We tend to focus on other people’s character or bad intentions first rather than the external situations and uncontrollable factors. In an experiment subjects blamed that person’s behavior or personality 65% of the time.
Mental Bias: Defensive Attribution
Defensive Attribution is a cognitive approach that uses a set of beliefs and blame as a shield against the fear that one will be the victim or cause of a serious mishap.
If you hear that a group of teenagers was lost on a mountain on a bad weather you would most likely say something that kind of blames the teenagers. You will say what the hell were they doing alone, who in their right mind would climb a mountain on a bad weather, why were they on the mountain in the first place. You will blame the teenagers instead of the situation. And the lowest the level of similarity between the people involved and you, the bigger the chance you will blame them. But all of these reactions are a defensive mechanism to shield yourself from the fear that this might happen to you. You distance yourself from the victims involved because it gives you a sense of security. This protective mechanism gives you a sense that you have a bigger control over situations than you actually have.
Mental Bias: Trait Ascription Bias
Trait Ascription Bias is the tendency for people to view themselves as relatively variable in terms of personality, behavior and mood while viewing others as more predictable in their personal traits in different situations.
If you were asked to describe your best friend you will most likely portray them as a solid character who was and always will be the way it is, with the same group of traits and attributes they currently have. But if you were asked to describe yourself you will be much more fluid in your description. You will speak about traits you have, traits you are developing, traits you had but no longer have, traits you imagine to have. You will speak of yourself as couple of different characters and personalities in different situations. You will see yourself as someone who has a potential to change while others will be more solid in your depiction of them. This is because we see others in limited amount of situations and we create a solid definition about them. However, because we are with ourselves we know that we continuously change.
Mental Bias: Effort Justification
Effort Justification is a person’s tendency to attribute a value to an outcome, which they had to put effort into achieving, greater than the objective value of the outcome.
If you were given a set of humiliating missions you must accomplish to enter your favorite team, or to become a member of your favorite fraternity, and you accomplish them, you will attribute a greater value to the reward of getting in the fraternity. You will value your membership more by doing the humiliating missions than if you were just allowed to be a member without doing anything, even though it’s the same fraternity you favor.
Mental Bias: Risk Compensation
Risk Compensation is a mental bias suggesting people adjust their behavior in response to the perceived level of risk, becoming more careful where they sense greater risk and less careful if they feel protected.
If you were told to walk across a jungle that is known to have dangerous animals inside, you will be extremely careful. But if you were told to walk across the same jungle being told that a team of snipers is protecting you, or that the animals were removed, you will walk through it much carelessly.
Mental Bias: Peltzman Effect
Peltzman Effect is a mental fallacy where people react to safety regulations by increasing other risky behaviors and thus offsetting the safe behaviors the safety regulations are there to protect.
If you were given a pill that gives you consequence free recovery if you get really drunk, chances are you will be inclined more to get as much drunk as possible, even though you might not really want to without the pill.
Mental Bias: Hyperbolic Discounting
Hyperbolic Discounting is a tendency for people to increasingly choose a smaller and sooner reward over a larger and later reward as the delay occurs sooner rather than later in time.
If you were told that you will be given 100$ right now or you can choose to come here in a week and get 200$, most people will choose the 100$ right now. The bigger the delay of the reward the bigger the chance people will choose the momentary reward.
Mental Bias: Appeal To Novelty
Appeal To Novelty is a cognitive fallacy in which one prematurely claims that an idea or proposal is correct or superior, exclusively because it is new and modern.
If you get an update for your OS you would most likely assume that it’s better than the last one and you will update your device. But you have no idea in reality if it’s better or not. The update might have errors that damage your device, however, you assume it’s better because it’s the latest update, without any other evidence.
Mental Bias: Identifiable Victim Effect
Identifiable Victim Effect tendency of individuals to offer greater aid when a specific, identifiable person is observed under hardship, as compared to a large, vaguely defined group with the same need.
If you go on the internet you will see that the more known and famous countries of the world get bigger attention when a disaster strikes them, and smaller countries that go through same and maybe even more terrible disasters are not even heard of. Most people focus their attention, kindness and help toward the more famous countries just because they are more identifiable, while the need of help is the same, or maybe even greater in other smaller countries.
Mental Bias: Sunk Cost Fallacy
Sunk Cost Fallacy is a cognitive fallacy thinking you make rational decisions based on predictions and experiences while the decisions you make are derived by the emotional investments you accumulate.
If you invest small amount of money in some cryptocurrency and it starts rising, you will like to invest more. You invest more and you invest even more money as time goes by but the value of the cryptocurrency starts dropping. You would most likely keep the money in the stock, you will not take them out. And as it keeps dropping you will have a bigger resistance of getting them out. You might even double down. This is because the more you invest in something the harder it becomes to abandon it.
Mental Bias: Irrational Escalation
Irrational Escalation is a term frequently used in psychology, referring to a situation in which people can make irrational decisions based upon rational decisions in the past or to justify actions already taken.
If you’ve ever tried to climb a mountain, or attempted to reach some other physical or mental peak, and pushed yourself to go a bit further ‘because I’ve already come all this way’, you’ve escalated your commitment to a goal. Such escalation becomes irrational when the rewards from completing your goal would come nowhere near to covering the expenses you’ve paid to complete the goal. Sticking to a business plan that’s already costing more than it will give is a form of this bias.
Mental Bias: Escalation Of Commitment
Escalation Of Commitment is a bias where an individual or group facing increasingly negative outcomes from some decision, action, or investment nevertheless continues the same behavior rather than alter course.
If you start bidding and enter a bidding war with someone, this can be an example of this bias. You will both compete with your finances over something that in the end would turn out to be much less valuable than your commitment to win over your opponent.
Mental Bias: Generation Effect
Generation Effect is a phenomenon where information is better remembered if it is generated from one’s own mind rather than being read.
If you need to learn about a subject you would learn and remember less of it instead if it’s the same subject but it’s you who generates the analogies, metaphors, examples and ideas.
Mental Bias: Loss Aversion
Loss Aversion refers to people’s bias to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains, it’s the tendency to give more attention in avoiding a loss than gaining something equivalent.
If you are a regular person like everyone else, you don’t go out that much, but one night you go out with a new group of friends you just met, and for some reason you are in your best mode that night, you laugh, you are the life of the party, and the new friends love you, they praise you, they think you are the awesomest human being on the planet, you will feel great about yourself. Your ego will be boosted. However, you would avoid going out with the same group of friends because you would fear losing your status because you know you are not as awesome as you were that night. You would avoid losing your status instead of trying to have even better experiences.
Mental Bias: IKEA effect
IKEA effect is a cognitive bias in which consumers place a disproportionately high value on products they partially created or participated in their creation in some manner.
If you have two chairs, one you bought really expensively and looks really beautiful, and another customized by you where you were given 3 deigns to choose from, the texture and the size, maybe something personal to add, and you were given this chair to put together yourself, you will value the customized chair more than the really expensive one because you invested more energy and personal touch in creating it.
Mental Bias: Unit Bias
Unit Bias is the tendency for individuals to want to complete a unit of a given item or task. People want to finish whatever portion they have no matter the size, it is a perception of completion that is satisfying to people.
If you were served a small bowl of ice cream you would eat the whole bowl. However, if you were served a big bowl, twice the size of the small bowl, you would still eat the whole bowl of ice cream because you see each bowl as one unit, no matter if they are double in their size. This is because we have a tendency of finishing our portions, it gives us a sense of completion that is satisfying to us.
Mental Bias: Zero Risk Bias
Zero Risk Bias is a tendency to prefer the complete elimination of a risk even when there are alternative options that produce a greater reduction in risk.
If you were given two choices to gamble, the first one says you need to give 100$ and you have 1 in 5 chance to win 1000$ and the second option says you don’t need to give anything but you still have a chance to win 1000$ but with 1 in 50 chance, you would most likely choose the second option because you don’t put on any wager even though the chances of winning are 10 times worse than the first option.
Mental Bias: Disposition Effect
Disposition Effect is a mental bias that relates to the tendency of people to sell assets that have increased in value, while keeping assets that have dropped in value.
If you invested in a stock 1000$ and the value drops to 700$ you would most likely not sell and lose 300$ of your investment. But since the stock is losing value chances are that it will drop even more so you will lose more. In another case, if you invested 1000$ and the value of the stock grows to 1300$ you would most likely sell to gain 300$ profit, but the stock might grow even more and you lose potential profit. In the first case we tend to stick to assets that drop in value while in the second case we tend to sell assets that grow in value.
Mental Bias: Pseudocertainty Effect
Pseudocertainty Effect is a mental fallacy relating to the people’s tendency to perceive an outcome as certain while in fact it is uncertain. It is mostly observed in multi stage decisions.
If you list through 5 games of football and you see the teams competing, you will be certain at least for one game about who will win. You will claim that it’s how the game will end, maybe even claiming about what the exact score will be. But in reality this outcome is uncertain and you are under the influence of this mental fallacy.
Mental Bias: Processing Difficulty Effect
Processing Difficulty Effect is a cognitive phenomenon where people tend to remember more easily information that takes longer to read and is thought about more.
If you read about something explained in one paragraph and if you read about the same thing but explained in a couple of pages long, even if the explanation is longer but tells the same thing as the shorter and easier to read explanation, you will most likely remember more information via the longer and harder explanation than the shorter and easier one.
Mental Bias: Endowment Effect
Endowment Effect is the cognitive bias relating to the fact that people ascribe more value to things merely because they own them and not because of their actual worth.
If you have a dog and your friend has a dog, the same breed, the same age, let’s say even the same temperament, you will say that your dog is the best dog in the world, not because it won a competition, but merely because it’s yours.
Mental Bias: Backfire Effect
Backfire Effect is the tendency of people to resist accepting evidence that conflicts with their beliefs even if there are multiple sources giving out the same evidence.
If you believe that eating 5 eggs each morning is healthy, and you have done this your whole life, and someone presents you medical evidence that this is actually unhealthy, you would, most likely not accept the evidence. You will resist it. Even if multiple researches show up telling that the thing is unhealthy and there are no actual evidences that it was ever considered healthy, you would still resist accepting the evidence. This is because questioning your deeper beliefs that you acted upon most of your life takes a lot of energy for your mind, it needs to reorganize your whole belief structure, so it’s much easier and less energy consuming to ignore the evidence if it’s not an immediate threat to your life.
Mental Bias: System Justification
System Justification refers to the cognitive bias relating to the social psychological propensity of people to defend and bolster the status quo, that is, to see it as good, fair, legitimate, and desirable.
If you enter a society where it’s normal for women to do all the work while men need to take care of the home, and everyone around you does this and functions normally, works, laughs, goes out, if this is the norm of the society you are in instead of equality, you will adopt this behavior yourself. You will find reason in it, you will see what’s good within it, what’s fair and legitimate, what’s desirable and with time, you might even defend this norm. Some people might end up preaching it to others. It’s because whenever we enter a system we are wired to adopt the system’s rules and feel as part of that system, even if it means defending it.
Mental Bias: Reverse Psychology
Reverse Psychology is a cognitive fallacy where suggesting something opposite of what is desired when persuading someone will encourage the subject of the persuasion to do what actually is desired.
If you go out at your friend’s house and you find them cleaning the house you would by default wait for them to finish. But if they say to you that they need to clean and you shouldn’t bother helping them at all, you would most likely help them. We have aversion toward people knowing what we like to do, or what we intend to do. We don’t like to be manipulated and this makes us susceptible to manipulation.
Mental Bias: Reactance Bias
Reactance Bias is the tendency to do something different from what someone wants you to do in reaction to a perceived attempt to constrain your freedom of choice.
If you are a smoker but not really passionate smoker, but let’s say you were forbidden to smoke, a law passed in your country that smoking is not allowed, you and most people will most likely go out in protest and smoke even more than you did before. You will be more passionate about smoking just because the government forbid you, even though smoking is really bad for your health.
Mental Bias: Decoy Effect
Decoy Effect is the phenomenon whereby consumers will tend to have a specific change in preference between two options when also presented with a third option that is asymmetrically dominated.
If you were given two prices for two USB devices, the first one USB A has 15 GB of storage and costs 150$ and the second option USB B has 25GB of storage and costs 250$ you would get the one that fits your needs. But if there is a third option, a decoy option, let’s call it USB C with 20GB of storage that costs 300$ you would be pulled more towards the option B or the USB that costs 250$ and has 25GB of storage. Just because a decoy option is being put with a price that is higher in cost than the targeted price, but with lower worth in attributes than the targeted price, your mind will automatically assume that getting 25GB for 250$ is the best choice for you, even though you might just need 15GB USB device.
Mental Bias: Social Comparison Bias
Social Comparison Bias is having feelings of dislike and competitiveness with someone that is seen physically, or mentally, or status wise better than yourself.
If you are in a team with 3 other people and other people start praising one person of your team, they say this person is physically and mentally best in the team you are in, this means better than you, it would most likely trigger competitiveness within you, maybe even feelings of dislike for this person, just because they are described as better than you. The other two guys and you might get along really well, and you might avoid the so called superior teammate just because you are mutually inferior in other people’s opinion to this person n you team, even though they might be really good people.
Mental Bias: Status Quo Bias
Status Quo Bias is a preference for the current state of affairs where the current baseline is taken as a reference point, and any change from that baseline is perceived as a loss.
If you are a citizen in a city and the government tries to renovate the whole city, adding different look to the buildings, different infrastructure and adding new laws to the traffic to make the city you live in more in alignment with the cities from first world countries, you, and majority of the citizens would protest against the changes. You would assume it’s just for a profit, you would whine about how everything is in construction, about how the city was better when it wasn’t renovated, about every little detail against your preferences that you can find to highlight. This is because we don’t like change. We want to stick with things that are familiar with us. You would most likely drink the same beverage when you go out, you would most likely go to the same clubs in a city, you would eat the same couple of foods in a restaurant. People love to stick with what’s familiar, even if there are better options out there.
Mental Bias: Ambiguity Bias
Ambiguity Bias is a cognitive bias where people tend to select options for which the probability of a favorable outcome is known, over an option for which the probability of a favorable outcome is unknown.
If you are given a challenge to win 100$ if you guess correctly the color of a ball you would pick up from a box, and you are given two boxes with red and green balls to choose from, one box has 50 red and 50 green balls, and the other box has a random number of red and green balls, you would most likely choose to pick up balls from the box that has 50 red and 50 green ones. This is because people most often choose the option with known probability.
Mental Bias: Information Bias
Information Bias is the cognitive fallacy of believing that the more information that can be acquired to make a decision, the better, even if that extra information is irrelevant for the decision.
If you are given two choices, the first one is to learn the basics of public speaking and do it, and the second is to read a whole book on public speaking, than listen to powerpoint presentations from pros in public speaking, and then do it, you would most likely choose the second option even though the basics is all you need for your first public speech. Everything else than the basics you will learn from experience, yet you would like to absorb as much unnecessary info about the activity than just do it.
Mental Bias: Belief Bias
Belief Bias is the tendency to judge the strength of arguments based on the plausibility of their conclusion rather than how strongly they support that conclusion.
If you believe that all people who have green eyes are good people and you get a free coffee by someone who happens to have green eyes, you would assume it’s because he has green eyes therefore he must be a good person. But you have no idea about their intentions, you have no idea what they overcame to even be a good person if they really are. You fail to see there are bad people and good people with all eye colors.
Mental Bias: Rhyme As Reason Effect
Rhyme As Reason Effect is a cognitive bias whereupon a saying or aphorism is judged as more accurate or truthful when it is rewritten to rhyme.
If you are asked to tell what statement is more truthful between these “What sobriety conceals, alcohol reveals” or “What sobriety conceals, alcohol unmasks” you would most likely go with the first one just because it rhymes. However, “reveals” and “unmasks” are two different words with different aims. Reveals can be used about truths, lies, emotions, thoughts, about anything really, while Unmasks is more direct, it’s about diving deeper than the pretense and looking at the truth. Even if in this example the consequences of mixing the two words are not dire, because of this cognitive bias there can be serious unwanted implications in other cases.
Mental Bias: Law Of Triviality
Law Of Triviality is a mental fallacy that relates to the fact that people and organization give disproportionate weight to trivial issues leading them to complicate or even abandon the primary plan.
If you go out and you want to shop for a purse, and you want to buy a red purse, you will most likely find what you are looking for since you have a plan. Let’s say you go into one store and you find two red purses exactly like the one you wanted but they slightly differ in the shade of red. So you start thinking what of them is better, what shade of red is better. You think so much that you decide to come back after you decide. So you go home and think, you ask your friends, you search what’s the latest fashion, when suddenly you realize that the color is not important and you would get the darker red purse. So you go back to the store just to find that the purses were bought by someone. You obsessed with triviality and you forgot about what you really wanted.
Mental Bias: Delmore Effect
Delmore Effect is a mental fallacy where the simpler the problem to solve is, the more time we spend solving it while the more complex the problem is, the higher is the tendency to avoid the topic.
If you know what your purpose is and you know what your daily schedule is you would spend more time into organizing your daily schedule, you would stress more if something is not as you planned, something small, you would worry if you will achieve all the trivial things during your day like cleaning your mail, yet you would not spend even close to that time and energy into following your dream, your purpose, or creating your business you always wanted to create.
Mental Bias: Conjunction Fallacy
Conjunction Fallacy is a cognitive fallacy that occurs when it is assumed that specific conditions are more probable if told together than a single general one.
If you read about a woman named Linda who is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti nuclear demonstrations. And you are asked to choose what statement is more probable from these, “1. Linda is a bank teller.” or “2. Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement.” You would most likely choose 2. Because of her backstory. However, the probability of two events occurring together is always smaller than just one. Most people will ignore this fact and will attribute bigger probability based on, for example, description, as it’s in this case.
Mental Bias: Occam’s Razor
Occam’s Razor is a cognitive bias relating to the fact that the more assumptions you have to make for an explanation, the more unlikely an explanation is.
If you were asked what is more probable to be the truth in a case where two trees have fallen down during a windy night and there are two possible explanations, “1. The wind has blown them down.” or “2. Two meteorites have each taken one tree down and, after striking the trees, hit each other removing any trace of themselves.” You would most likely choose number 1 because there are less assumptions. Even though both are possible, several other unlikely things would also need to happen for the meteorites to have knocked the trees down. Most people decide how likely an explanation is based on the certainty and simplicity of the explanation.
Mental Bias: Less Is Better Effect
Less Is Better Effect is a type of preference reversal that occurs when the lesser or smaller alternative of a proposition is preferred when evaluated separately, but not evaluated together.
If you were asked for some reason to suggest how much you would pay for a particular set of dishes. The first set has 40 pieces with 9 broken pieces and the second set has 24 pieces all intact. If you are asked to bid a price about the first set first, than about the second set, you would most likely bid higher for the set with 24 intact pieces. But if you analyzed the sets together and bid for them together, you and all the people bidding would give the set with 40 pieces where 9 are broken, a higher price. When analyzed separately a greater majority of participants are willing to pay more for the second option, when analyzed side by side, the majority of the participants go for the first option recollecting that even if there are 9 broken pieces, there are still 31 pieces intact, versus 24 as there are in the second option.
Our minds need to make a meaning out of the information they process so they will know how to sort, arrange and organize the input.
If there is not enough meaning our minds tend to fill in the blanks, create patterns and add the most suitable meaning to the data based on our beliefs.
Mental Biases that Occur When We Do Not Enough Meaning:
Mental Bias: Confabulation
Confabulation is a disturbance of memory, defined as the production of fabricated, distorted, or misinterpreted memories about oneself or the world, without the conscious intention to deceive.
If you had a dream that you were somewhere with your family, let’s say on a trip, when you were a small kid, you might think to yourself that you actually were there. You might remember details from your dream, or unconsciously make up details as you try to remember the trip, and claim that you actually were there on a trip. Sometimes you might remember a situation differently from other people who participated in the same situation because of this bias. You all remember different details and you all skew the memory just a tiny bit to suit your filtering mechanism.
Mental Bias: Clustering Illusion
Clustering Illusion is the tendency to erroneously consider the inevitable streaks or clusters arising in small samples from random distributions to be non random and following a certain pattern.
If you roll a dice and you start to see some pattern arising, let’s say you roll a 3 and then you roll 6, and this happens three times in a row, you will think that if you roll a 3 you will certainly roll a 6 after it, and most likely will be wrong. You will think there is a pattern while these are just random dice rolls. It’s similar thing that happens when people try to find patterns in the stock market.
Mental Bias: Insensitivity To Sample Size
Insensitivity To Sample Size is a cognitive fallacy that occurs when people judge the probability of obtaining a sample statistic without respect to the sample size.
If you observe a behavior of a sample of 10 people and see that 2 out of 10 people have IQ of less than 100 you might assume that the percentage of people with IQ below 100 is 20. However, a sample of 100 people might show less than 10 people with IQ below 100 and the percentage is therefore less than 20. This is because variation is more likely in smaller samples, but people may not expect this.
Mental Bias: Neglect Of Probability
Neglect Of Probability is the tendency to disregard probability when making a decision under uncertainty. Small risks are typically either neglected entirely or hugely overrated.
If you go to a bar and, let’s say there is a person you would like to approach, you would most likely think that there are two probable scenarios, they will either like you back or reject you. This thinking, however, is flawed because you are neglecting all the probabilities of the spectrum that are between the two extremes you take as probable. The other person might like you as a friend, they might reject you but introduce you to their friends where you will find someone you would like more. Approaching them might lead you to a conversation that will help you at work. Or, you might simply be less shy to approach someone else after them who will turn out to be a perfect match for you.
Mental Bias: Anecdotal Fallacy
Anecdotal Fallacy is the cognitive fallacy to overestimate the probability of some event because of a recent memory, a striking anecdote, or a news story. The emotion outweighs stronger evidence.
If you see a news report with an image or a video of a shark attack, you will most likely overestimate the probability of a shark attacking you when you go into the water because of the intense emotions the image or the video will make you feel. Shark attacks are really rare but since media can use such story because it makes viral news it will use it without much consideration. As they say “when a dog bites a man that is not news, but when a man bites a dog that is news.”
Mental Bias: Illusion Of Validity
Illusion Of Validity is a cognitive bias that happens when a person overestimates their ability to interpret and predict accurately the outcome when analyzing a set of data that shows a very consistent pattern.
If you know of a person who has 3 marriages, and now they are divorcing, you would most likely assume their fourth marriage will be a disaster. However, your prediction is based of analyzing the number of his marriages assuming they are all failed marriages because of something he did, and not anything else. The person might have got someone pregnant really young so they got together really young, however they decided to separate. He might have lost his second wife who he truly loved and found someone to be together with as a third wife, someone to be with just not to be alone. And now he realized it was a decision based on fear and pain and it’s much healthier to divorce. He might be healed and ready to love again. Based on this analysis his fourth marriage might be the best one.
Mental Bias: Recency Illusion
Recency Illusion is the false impression that a word or language usage is of recent origin when it is long established. It is the tendency to think something appearing modern hasn’t been around till now.
If you think speaking with the intensifier “really,” as in “it was a really wonderful experience,” is somehow modern you are wrong. This term and intensifier has been used since the 18th century.
Mental Bias: Masked Man Fallacy
Masked Man Fallacy is the tendency to assume someone’s identity or something as a fact based on something in comparison not being true. It’s assuming a true based on something else’s false.
If you know a person who you believe does not have good fighting skills and a person in mask appears on TV with good fighting skills as a vigilante you would assume the person you know is not the vigilante because they don’t know how to fight.
Mental Bias: Gambler’s Fallacy
Gambler’s Fallacy is the mistaken belief that, if something happens more frequently than normal during a given period, it will happen less frequently in the future.
If you gamble on what number a dice will roll, and the dice rolls the number 6 five times, you would assume the chances of rolling another 6 are higher while in fact they are always the same.
Mental Bias: Hot Hand Fallacy
Hot Hand Fallacy is the purported phenomenon that a person who experiences a successful outcome with a random event has a greater probability of success in further attempts.
If you play basketball and score 3 points five times in a row you would assume it’s your day or that you have a so called hot hand for scoring 3 points. This will become a self fulfilling prophecy as the sole belief will give you subconscious confidence and improve your performance. In reality, this thinking is considered fallacious because it is without hard evidence that scoring a couple of times in a row is anyhow connected or has any physical proof with better further performance, except for the sole subjective belief of the performer that subconsciously improves their performance.
Mental Bias: Illusory Correlation
Illusory Correlation is the phenomenon of perceiving a relationship between variables (typically people, events, or behaviors) even when no such relationship exists.
If you think of someone and they call you on your phone at that exact moment you would think that you are somehow telepathically connected. However, you are neglecting the fact that you have thought of them so many other times when they didn’t call you. You have thought of many other people who didn’t call you. Yet, you are taking this small amount of moments to assume it is somehow connected with you thinking about them. We think of someone almost every minute, and we mostly think of people close to us. There is a small chance this person you think of will call you. Especially if they are your close friend because there are just a couple of people you call and you are in the close friends group who call each other most often.
Mental Bias: Pareidolia
Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon that causes people to see patterns in a random stimulus. This often leads to people assigning human characteristics to objects.
If you have a toy and you play with it you assume it has a certain character. But this is nothing more than your own psyche projecting a type of character upon this object. We project our human psyche upon objects and animals because that’s the filter through what we see the world. The reality, however, is much less human. A toy is a toy, an animal is an animal.
Mental Bias: Anthropomorphism
Anthropomorphism is the mental phenomena of attribution human traits, emotions, or intentions to non human entities like animals, toys and even technology.
If you have a toy of a bear and you have a certain name for the bear, you think it has empathy for you as you hug it and tell your worries, you are under an influence of this bias. This is anthropomorphism in action.
Mental Bias: Group Attribution Error
Group Attribution Error is the mental tendency to believe that the characteristics of an individual group member are reflective of the group as a whole, or a group’s decision reflect the preferences of some members.
If you think certain group of people are leftist just because you know one person who belongs in this group that it is, you are under influence of this mental fallacy or phenomena.
Mental Bias: Ultimate Attribution Error
Ultimate Attribution Error is the mental fallacy that offers an explanation for how one person views different causes of negative and positive behavior in ingroup and outgroup members.
If you belong in a certain group, let’s say you are a vegan, and you see people who do not belong in this group as making a mistake not following your principles and values, you assume they are a negative person just because they do not follow what you follow, you are under an influence of this mental fallacy. If you see a famous celebrity and you think they are living a happy life just because they belong in the group of celebrities, you are under an influence of this bias.
Mental Bias: Stereotyping
Stereotyping is the mental tendency to over generalize and create a belief about a particular category of people for each individual in that category based on an assumption of that group.
If you see a homeless person you assume they are dangerous, poor, dirty and maybe even bad. You have a stereotype for all homeless people believing that these attributes, dangerous, poor, dirty and bad, are true for each or most of the people within the category of homeless people. However, not all homeless people have these attributes. Some homeless people are not even poor, it’s their choice to live on the street. But over generalization helps our mind to generate a quick decision and spend less energy.
Mental Bias: Essentialism
Essentialism is the mental tendency to believe that every entity has a set of attributes that are necessary to its identity and function. It is a belief there is an essence that automatically adds unchangeable attributes.
If you see a parent claiming their child is just naturally a crier you are witnessing this bias in action. The child might have had predispositions based on DNA but it is also taught that way.
Mental Bias: Functional Fixedness
Functional Fixedness is a cognitive bias that limits a person to use an object only in the way it is traditionally used. It is seeing of things as already determined and prevents experimentation.
If you use a pencil for writing a homework and your teacher says that pen is for homework and pencil is for exercises than she is under an influence of this bias.
Mental Bias: Moral Credential Effect
Moral Credential Effect is a bias that occurs when a person’s track record of doing something good establishes in them an unconscious ethical endorsement and justification to do something wrong.
If you go to the gym to workout you probably watch over your diet. But if you have a really intense exercise you might think to yourself that you deserve a meal that goes against your diet. The right you do with exercising does not justify your decision to go against your diet. Another example is someone who is vegan for a long period of time, and someone orders a delicious steak in front of them, so the vegan decides since they followed this way of eating for so long, they can let themselves have one steak. Their subjective ethical goodness of not eating meat has nothing to do with their choice to eat the steak. It’s their desire to eat the stake, but they use their track record of doing something good as a justification.
Mental Bias: Just World Hypothesis
Just World Hypothesis is the cognitive bias that a person’s actions are inherently inclined to bring morally fair consequences to that person, all noble actions are being rewarded and all evil is eventually punished.
If you were wronged in some way and there is nothing you can do to make things even with the person who wronged you, you will most likely expect that karma or some other force to make things right for you. If you do good you will expect that your good actions will be rewarded. But in reality there is no promise that this will be the cause. What’s just for you might be unjust for someone else. Being good and being bad is subjective, but the causality of reality follows objective rules.
Mental Bias: Argument From Fallacy
Argument From Fallacy is a mental flaw of analyzing an argument and inferring that, since it contains a fallacy, its conclusion must be false. Just because one detail is false, the point of the argument is false.
If you argue with someone that they are not smart because they did something stupid and that their IQ was proven to be below 90 and they reply that they are smart because their IQ was 93, than you are looking at this fallacy.
Mental Bias: Authority Bias
Authority Bias is the tendency to attribute greater accuracy to the opinion of an authority figure, unrelated to its content, and be more influenced by that opinion even if their knowledge about the subject is low.
If you speak to your teacher in school and they say eating vegetables is not that healthy, you will believe this statement more than if one of your classmates tells you that eating vegetables is healthy.
Mental Bias: Automation Bias
Automation Bias is the propensity for humans to favor suggestions from automated decision making systems and to ignore contradictory information made without automation, even if it is correct.
If you use some device like computer you probably have some form of protection on it like an antivirus software. If you sense that your computer is not running properly you might check with the antivirus and scan it. If the antivirus scans your computer and says there are no threats you will trust this information more than your human hunch that there is something wrong with the device. However, the antivirus might be infected also, or it might overlook some aspects like a hardware malfunction. So you might not take action and your device might suffer additional damage, but if you trusted your human hunch you would have taken the device to the service and prevented the additional damage. This is the fallacy in action.
Mental Bias: Bandwagon Effect
Bandwagon Effect is a psychological phenomenon in which people do something primarily because other people are doing it, regardless of their own beliefs, which they may ignore or override.
If you see many people drinking alcohol, you will probably get a drink yourself, even though consuming alcohol is not good for you. If you see many people complaining, you will probably start complaining too, even though complaining creates a negative mindset. If you hear a lot of people investing in something, let’s say bitcoin, you will consider investing in bitcoins also, even though this might be a financial bubble and you have no idea what you are investing into. All of these decisions are influenced by this bias.
Mental Bias: Placebo Effect
Placebo Effect is the phenomena of benefiting from something not because of the properties of that thing but because of the subject’s beliefs that they will benefit from it.
If your hand hurts and you go to a doctor you will trust what the doctor will give you to remedy the pain. If the doctor gives you a sugar pill but tells you that it is a pill that will reduce the pain and heal your hand, and you believe this, the pain in your hand will reduce not because of the properties of the sugar pill but due to the fact that you believe the pill’s properties will reduce your hand’s pain. Your hand might even heal itself.
Mental Bias: Out Group Homogeneity Bias
Out Group Homogeneity Bias is the mental fallacy of thinking that people who do not belong in a certain group are more similar to each other than the people who belong in the group.
If you are from a country that goes into a war with another country, you will see the people from the other country as all the same, as evil, as the side who is wrong. This is because, according for your mind, you are not close enough to these people, they are a threat, you are different countries, they are strangers, it’s safer and much more energy saving to see them as similar.
Mental Bias: Cross Race Effect
Cross Race Effect is the tendency to more easily recognize faces of the race that one is most familiar with, than from any other race they are not as familiar with.
If you go to China and see Chinese people walking on the street you would think that they are all the same compared to the group you belong, let’s say it’s Caucasian. You would recognize people within your Caucasian group more easily, and you can see their differences without a problem, but you fail to see this for the Asian group of people.
Mental Bias: In Group Bias
In Group Bias is a pattern of favoring members of one’s in group over out group members. This can be expressed in evaluation of others wrongly due to the sole fact they do not belong within your group.
If you play some kind of a sport, let’s say hockey, and you play against another team in a very important tournament, you will see your teammates as slightly better individuals than the members of the opposing team. You will evaluate the people from the other team as worse people than the people in your team without any kind of hard evidence. This is due to the fact that both of the teams are after a reward and it is much more beneficial for you to favor your group because if your group wins you all benefit.
Mental Bias: Halo Effect
Halo Effect is the tendency for an impression created in one area to influence opinion in another area. It’s a type of an immediate judgment based on an impression that has very little to do with the judging area.
If you see a celebrity sitting in a bar, you will be intimidated to go and speak with them. You will see them as somehow better individuals than any other person in the bar even though you have no idea who exactly is in the bar, maybe someone who is your greatest match in personality, someone who is more successful, maybe the celebrity has a worse personality than most people in that bar. But because of this bias you would judge them higher in the social hierarchy for the sole fact that they are celebrity.
Mental Bias: Cheerleader Effect
Cheerleader Effect is the cognitive bias which causes people to think individuals are more attractive when they are in a group rather than observing them individually.
If you see a group of people together, walking, laughing, having a good time, you will perceive all of them as more attractive just because they are together. But if you would have seen each member individually their attraction level would not have been that high as seeing them together in a group. This bias works for all genders, it’s a mental fallacy to observe a group of people as an entity and giving that entity the sum of all of its members’ qualities or characteristics, as well as giving these qualities and characteristics to all the members of the perceived entity.
Mental Bias: Positivity Effect
Positivity Effect is the ability to constructively analyze a situation where the desired results are not achieved, but still obtain positive feedback that assists our future progression.
If some of your friends gets angry and fights someone else, you will most likely comfort your friend after the fight that the other person deserved it, or that he needed to defend himself. This is how you use positive details and project negative details to color the scenario in your and your friend’s favor.
Mental Bias: Not Invented Here
Not Invented Here is a stance adopted by social or institutional cultures that avoid using or buying already existing products, research, standards, knowledge because of their external origins and costs.
If you have a certain idea about the advancement of technology and someone else suggests another idea, you will disregard their idea and reject it by default because it is from the outside, it’s not one of your own making.
Mental Bias: Reactive Devaluation
Reactive Devaluation is a cognitive bias that occurs when a proposal is devalued if it appears to originate from an antagonist or someone with a bad reputation in some area.
If a member from the political party that’s against the one you are identifying with proposes an idea that has nothing to do with politics, you will reject it or feel repulsion towards it by default just because it comes from a person you consider as an antagonist in the political story you are following.
Mental Bias: Well Traveled Road Effect
Well Traveled Road Effect is a cognitive bias where frequently travelled routes are assessed as taking a shorter time than unfamiliar routes.
If there is a route you travel through every day you most likely think this route is the shortest way to where you go, let’s say work. If someone presents an alternative route, you would immediately assume it’s not worth it and that it probably takes longer to go through it. This is because when you have the same route every day your brain uses less energy to evaluate possible ways of how you should reach your destination. Since the route is the same, your mind already has a choice and this saves you mental energy. So the new route that is suggested might be shorter, but your mind perceives it as longer because it knows it will take more energy for it to evaluate it, unlike using the default route that it takes no energy for it to evaluate as it is already tested. Your mind is not measuring distance in this case, but rather mental energy consumption, and it translates mental energy consumption as distance. That’s why a new suggested route might seem longer.
Mental Bias: Mental Accounting
Mental Accounting is a mental fallacy where individuals classify personal funds differently and therefore are prone to irrational decision making in their spending and investment behavior.
If you worked one day and you earned 100$ you would most likely value them enough to not spend them all at once. You would most likely use some of it for groceries, save some of it, and spend some for personal pleasure. However, if after you spend these 100$ you won another 100$ as a price, you would not value these 100$ the same. You would most likely go out and buy drinks for your friends, or spend most of them on personal pleasure without much care. But in reality, both 100$ bills are with the exact same value, only we value them differently based on how we have acquired them, and this personal subjectivity has nothing to do with the core value of those funds. We also do this with budgets. If we have a budget for investing and budget for spending our value for these funds is different.
Mental Bias: Appeal To Probability Fallacy
Appeal To Probability Fallacy is the logical fallacy of taking something for granted because it would probably be the case, or might possibly be the case, without considering an alternative scenario.
If you hear that the weather is going to be bad the next couple of days and you decide to go out without an umbrella you would think it will rain. Even though bad weather might mean just cold temperatures and clouds, you would assume that if there is possibility for rain, it will most likely rain. Just because there is possibility of something being true, does not make it true. Just because there is a possibility of something happening does not mean it will ever happen.
Mental Bias: Normalcy Bias
Normalcy Bias is a mental fallacy that causes people to underestimate both the likelihood of a disaster and its possible effects, because they believe things will always function the way things normally have.
If you were told that there is global warming and that the climate is changing and soon the ice of Antarctica will melt and many major cities will be flooded, you will most likely underestimate this natural disaster because the effects of it can slightly be felt. If we are told that an asteroid is coming to hit our planet, we will not panic immediately because things around us function normally, in comparison with the scenario of being chased by a serial killer, in this case you will panic in terror. However, the outcome of both scenarios is similar, the difference is in the normalcy of your surroundings.
Mental Bias: Murphy’s Law
Murphy’s Law is a mental bias that follows a belief telling if anything can go wrong will go wrong, and when something sometimes goes wrong people attribute it to this statement.
If you go by your day you would most likely ignore the noises on the street, the noises of people and dogs barking. However, if you want to film something you would most likely stumble upon some of these noises that happen all the time and are ignored by you, and you will think some external force is trying to mess with your video. Things go wrong and things go right but when you have this bias you will pin point all the things that went wrong and attribute it to some unwritten law ignoring all the times something went right, and all the times these nuisances occurred in reality without affecting you.
Mental Bias: Zero Sum Bias
Zero Sum Bias is a cognitive bias that describes when an individual thinks that one situation is like a zero sum game, where one person’s gain would be another’s loss.
If you love someone and they show love for you equally back it’s all good. But if you love the same person and they do not show the same affection towards you, even though they might still love you with all their heart, you will hold back your affection also because you would assume loving them more means they love you less and you lose. In reality love is love, if you love someone you love them, there is no more or less loving. People tend to count the number of times they called their loved ones, and if they called them more times than their loved ones called them, then they would intentionally resist calling their loved ones thinking they are losing the game of love. If you show love for someone more than they do for you, it’s not counted against you in some imaginary game, and they do not love you less, in fact, they might love you even more for it.
Mental Bias: Survivorship Bias
Survivorship Bias is the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that made it past some selection process and overlooking those that did not, typically because of their lack of visibility.
If you watch a video of someone really successful who dropped out of college you would assume that one of the key elements of becoming successful is dropping out of college. However, you are overlooking all the people who are higher in number that dropped out of college and did not succeeded, just because they are not as visible and popular as the successful person who dropped out of college.
Mental Bias: Subadditivity Effect
Subadditivity Effect is the tendency to judge the probability of the whole to be less than the probabilities of the parts. People tend to judge the probabilities of the whole to be less than the probabilities of the parts.
If you are asked to give the percentage of sodas being sold at a food bar, the percentage of coffees being sold at the same food bar, and the percentage of other beverages being sold at the same food bar you would give, let’ say, 50% for the sodas, 40% for the coffees and 5% for other beverages. However, if you are asked to give the percentage of beverages sold at the food bar you would give an answer of, let’s say 75%, and that’s a smaller percent than 95% that’s the total sum in the previous answer. This is because we underestimate percentages of whole groups and overestimate percentages of smaller parts because of lack of statistical prediction skills.
Mental Bias: Denomination Effect
Denomination Effect is a cognitive bias suggesting that people may be less likely to spend larger currency denominations than their equivalent value in smaller denominations.
If you have one 100$ bill and 20 5$ bills you would resist spending or giving the 100$ bill more even though the 20 5$ bills account to the same value of 100$ just because they are smaller denominations. You will spend the 5$ bills faster, and you will give them much easier than the 100$ bill and reducing it to smaller denominations because it holds greater value for you even though it’s the same value in total.
Mental Bias: Magic Number 7+-2
Magic Number 7+-2 is the mental fallacy of humans that states average adults can store between 5 and 9 items in their short term memory because of our limited mental capacity to hold objects in working memory.
If you are shown 10 items and you need to remember as many as you can in less than 30 seconds you would most likely remember from 5 to maximum 9 of the items that are presented to you because of the limits to your mental capacity to hold objects in working memory, remember them and recall them. Most humans are like this.
Mental Bias: Illusion Of Transparency
Illusion Of Transparency is a tendency for people to overestimate the degree to which their personal mental state is known by others, and overestimate how well they understand others’ personal mental states.
If you need to speak publicly in front of an audience it is very likely that you will have positive anxiety before giving the speech. As you go on the stage and start speaking, you will feel your heart pounding, you will start looking at people and see their facial expressions. Someone might frown, someone might look away, someone might keep their gaze at you, others might laugh and one of the people might yawn. You will assume that these people know how you feel, that they know how nervous you are and that their expressions are directed towards you. However, in reality nobody knows how you feel. In fact, it’s very likely that they see you as more confident than them since you speak in front of them. Their reactions are directed towards their own personal things, it’s highly unlikely that they frown at you. And if you don’t think this is the case, just think about people who spoke publicly in front of you. Did you know how they felt? Did you know they also felt anxious, all of them? Of course you didn’t. You thought they do this all the time and they don’t feel any nervousness. But in reality everyone is nervous before giving a public speech no matter how much they do it. This proves the fact of this bias that we overestimate how much others know of our mental state and how much we know of others’ mental states. In reality we are just guessing.
Mental Bias: Curse Of Knowledge
Curse Of Knowledge is a cognitive bias that occurs when an individual, communicating with other individuals, unknowingly assumes that the others have the background to understand what they speak about.
If you are a teacher and a new student enters the class that is a novice, you would most likely assume that they understand the subject you are teaching on a level as everyone else. If you start talking about your work to your friends who know nothing about it you would assume they can understand what you are talking about, your work’s slang, the technical details you automatically do and don’t even think about and you would assume your friends can fill the blindspots you are not telling because you can fill them for yourself. This is because we find hard to see through other people’s perception.
Mental Bias: Spotlight Effect
Spotlight Effect is the phenomenon in which people tend to believe they are being noticed more than they really are. We are often wrong about how much others notice us because we are at the center of our own world.
If you go out with a dirty shirt you would most likely think that every stranger who passes by you notices that your shirt is dirty. In reality almost nobody will notice your shirt unless they stop to talk with you for a while. This is because everyone is in their own little world, just as you are, they are too worried if others notice something about them unaware that others are also worried. Rarely anybody notices something about the other.
Mental Bias: Extrinsic Incentives Error
Extrinsic Incentives Error is a bias where people attribute more to extrinsic incentives such as monetary reward, than to intrinsic incentives such as learning a new skill when weighing the motives of others.
If you were asked what is the main incentive of a politician you would most likely attribute the amount of money and power they can acquire with their position. If you were suddenly elected as a president and someone asked you what is your main incentive, and even if there was no way for anyone to know the answer, you would say that your main incentive is something in the terms of doing something meaningful and helping the world. We usually attribute extrinsic incentives to others because we are unaware of their moral values, especially people in powerful positions. The bigger the power an individual has the less we trust them and their moral standards. This is because someone with low level of power cannot make as big of a negative impact if it is being wrongly trusted than someone with a lot of power.
Mental Bias: Illusion Of External Agency
Illusion Of External Agency is a mental bias that makes people believe self generated satisfactions are caused by an external agent because of illusions making the agent seem influential, insightful, or benevolent.
If you were told that you will be listening to a song generated by some new Smart Player, you’ll be pretty excited. But the song will be chosen based on a questionary you would need to fill, and the song will be mostly suited for your character according to a Smart Algorithm that will calculate your answers and come up with the song that is special just for you. If you were told this before you hear the song, you would most certainly rate the Smart Player and the song higher than if you were told this after you listened to the song. You would attribute the pleasure the song gave you to the fake Smart Player that just generated a random song because you were told it works, and you would keep using it and believing it generates songs that are special for you. You would like the songs more just because you were given a fake story about the program that generates you those songs.
Mental Bias: Illusion Of Asymmetric Insight
Illusion Of Asymmetric Insight is a cognitive bias whereby people perceive their knowledge they have of others to surpass other people’s knowledge of them.
If you were asked to rate from 1 to 100 where 100 is the highest, how much do you know of your friend’s real self you would answer something that it’s more than 50 for sure. But if you were asked how much your friend know about the real you, your answer would be a lesser value than the one you gave about you knowing your friend. And we are all thinking this about each other, we all think we know others better than they know us. This is because we perceive only other people’s mask or persona while we know all of our masks and personas. But in reality other people might know crucial things about us that might tremendously help us become a better version of ourselves, things that we are blind to. And you know such things about others too. These things go way beyond the personas we have in front of others.
Mental Bias: Telescoping Effect
Telescoping Effect is a mental bias whereby people perceive recent events as being more remote than they are and distant events as being more recent than they are.
If you think of something insignificant you did year and a half ago and a significant event you clearly remember that was 3 and a half years ago you would have the illusion of these two memories being closer to each other than they are. You might even perceive the 3 year old memory as more recent than the insignificant memory that’s 1 year old. Memories older than 3 years usually start being perceived as more recent. This usually happens when we look back at our high school years and how fast time passed. Old people tend to recall events from their childhood as more recent than memories from their midlife years.
Mental Bias: Rosy Retrospection
Rosy Retrospection is a mental fallacy where people rate past events from their memory more positively than they had actually rated them when the event occurred at real time.
If you remember the days you used to go to school you would certainly look at them with nostalgia and you would see them as positive times. But the reality is that when you went to school you didn’t see those times as all positive. In fact, those days might have been much harder for you compared to your present days. But you don’t remember the pain, the anxiety, the coldness of the mornings when you needed to get up and go learn something you didn’t want to learn, to do your boring homework, have much less control over your daily schedule. In reality and in all probability, those days did have good and positive times for you but just like every period of your life. We are distant from the pain and negative feelings of the past and we pick just the fermented positive memories constructing a cluster of positivity over the past events that’s a much distorted version of the reality we went through.
Mental Bias: Hindsight Bias
Hindsight Bias is the inclination, after an event has occurred, to see the event as having been predictable, despite there having no objective basis or information for predicting the event in reality.
If you win a main reward of money on some game like lottery you would think back and recall how you felt before you won. You would most likely point to a weird feeling you had that morning, or the day you decided the numbers you are going to play, you would start perceiving signs that were telling you would win, some random conversations that might have foretold that you are going to win. You might say that you knew somehow you were going to win, that something inside you was telling you, that you had the feeling. This bias might even distort the sequence and shape of your memories to fit the story you are trying to tell to yourself that you could have predicted the event of you winning the reward of money. But in reality all of this is within your imagination. The feeling you had that morning is probably something you imagined or exaggerated. And if you didn’t win you wouldn’t have even remembered that you had a feeling. All those random events that you try to find a pattern in are not correlated with you winning. It’s easy to think back and say we felt something, but we rarely feel something, do it and it turns out that we are right. And most of the times we feel something it turns out to be wrong. But finding some pattern when we look back gives us a sense of control that’s only an illusion giving us security in the midst of the uncertainty we live in.
Mental Bias: Outcome Bias
Outcome Bias is an error made in evaluating the quality of a decision when the outcome of that decision is already known. It’s judging the decision by its ultimate outcome instead of the knowledge of the time it was made.
If you decide to stay home one night and not go out, and the friends who went out say that the night was awesome, you would judge the quality of your decision as bad. But at the time you made the decision you couldn’t have possibly known that the night would be awesome. All you knew was that you are tired and you would rather stay at home than go out and party, it was a good and logical decision at the time you were making it based on the knowledge you had and the variables you could calculate.
Mental Bias: Moral Luck
Moral Luck is a mental bias whereby a moral agent is assigned moral blame or praise for an action even if it is clear that the agent didn’t have full control over the action and the consequences.
If you go to some bar and on the way you see someone bothering a girl in the dark valley, and you are the only person there, it’s morally right to help the girl in distress. You might approach the person and shout at them. Let’s say you are strong and you hit them to save the girl. But what if you hitting them actually kills them. The police shows, and you are blamed for killing a man. Now let’s say you don’t decide to help the girl, and something bad happens to her, if this is revealed to the world you would be shamed for your cowardly action. If this was just a social experiment filmed by a camera, and you are filmed walking away, you will be shamed for sure. The girl might be actually the guy’s wife and they are just arguing. The girl might be actually bothering the guy. You have no knowledge of these details and you have no control over the consequences of your action that depend mainly on those details. All you know is what’s morally right, and doing what’s morally right sometimes can result in negative consequences that you have no control over, and you will be blamed based on your actions and their consequences even though you had no control over them.
Mental Bias: Declinism
Declinism is a mental bias that makes us think the past situation of a certain community has been better than what the future situation will be it’s the belief that a society or institution is tending towards decline.
If you ask older people about how was the situation in the country you live in when they were young, they would praise it. They would describe the country as going perfectly and every system as working much smoother than it is now. In reality they are forgetting about the negative aspects of the country in their time, they are ignoring positive aspects of today and they are making a distorted comparison.
Mental Bias: Impact Bias
Impact Bias is the tendency for people to overestimate the length or the intensity of future emotional states based on incorrect predictions about how they will feel.
If you think about losing your job, and how you would feel if such thing happens, you will predict that your emotional state will be much worse than it will actually be. There was certainly something that happened to you, that you didn’t want to happen, but when it happened you didn’t actually feel as bad as you thought. This is because we overestimate the intensity and length of our emotional states.
Mental Bias: Pessimism Bias
Pessimism Bias is the overestimation of the probabilities and harmful effects of negative future events. This bias is most common in depressed individuals.
If you were asked to flip a coin and predict how many times you will predict it correctly on what side the coin will land, you will in all probability underestimate your score. We are wired to predict things more pessimistically, especially when it comes to gambling, because this keeps us from taking big risks that might have big negative results. However, the fact is that we overestimate pessimistic scenarios and underestimate positive ones.
Mental Bias: Planning Fallacy
Planning Fallacy is a phenomenon in which predictions about how much time will be needed to complete a future task are more optimistic than reality and underestimate the time needed for completion.
If you get excited about starting a business you will most likely underestimate how much time and effort you would need to put in order to realize your plan.
Mental Bias: Time Saving Bias
Time Saving Bias is a mental fallacy that describes people’s tendency to misestimate the time that could be saved or lost when increasing or decreasing speed.
If you drive a car at 20 miles per hour and your destination is 30 minutes away you would assume that the faster you drive the sooner you’ll get there. This is correct. However, let’s say you increase your speed to 30 miles per hour, your estimated time to arrive will be reduced by 10 minutes. And you would assume that if you drive faster the time will reduce linearly and double. That’s where we are incorrect. 40 miles per hour reduces 5 more minutes. Driving 50 miles per hour reduces 3 more minutes. 60 miles per hour reduces 2 more minutes. So it’s better to drive 30 miles per hour than speed up to 60. 10 more miles faster is as same as 30 more miles after those 10. But we tend to believe that if we increase 10 more miles the time reduction will double.
Mental Bias: Pro Innovation Bias
Pro Innovation Bias is the belief that an innovation should be adopted by whole society without the need of alteration and tweaking. The innovator is strongly biased that they cannot see its limitations or weaknesses.
If you are asked to create the perfect product, you would put a lot of energy and effort into it. And after some time you will come up to an idea that’s perfect in your mind. You will look at this idea and at its every detail and create a product that it’s the most perfect in your opinion. Let’s say this product is a board game, and as you tested the board game you believe it’s really fun and perfect to play. However, unless you test it with at least 100 people you cannot know if this is true for sure. And if someone of these 100 people finds some aspects boring, or unbalanced, you would think there is something wrong with them. You would keep promoting your game instead of using the testing player’s feedback to alter your board game and tweak it to make it better. It’s because you designed it to suit your interests not other people’s interests.
Mental Bias: Projection Bias
Projection Bias is a mental fallacy to assume that others think, feel, believe, and behave much like they do. As well as falsely assume that the way we think, feel, believe and behave will stay the same.
If you remember the things you liked when you were in high school you would most likely find it hard to believe that you actually liked those tastes, whatever they are, fashion, music, food, types of partners. This false assumption is because of this bias. We also think that the way we think and behave, the things we believe should be what normal people also think, do and believe. However, we can’t say that we are the parameter for normal.
Mental Bias: Restraint Bias
Restraint Bias is a tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control impulsive behavior. They think they have greater self control than they actually do.
If you ask someone who smokes cigarettes if they are addicted, most people will tell you that they can stop smoking whenever they want, as if they are not addicted. In reality they are overestimating the self control they think they have.
Mental Bias: Self Consistency Bias
Self Consistency Bias is the false idea that we are more consistent in our attitudes, opinions, and beliefs than we actually are. We’re unable to see changes in thoughts and beliefs thinking we always thought the same way.
If you think of something from your past you regret you didn’t do you would most likely project the thinking and belief systems you have right now to the self from that past moment. However, in that past time you thought much differently, you knew less, you were aware of different things, you believed different beliefs, you felt different emotions and you had different opinions than you do right now. You think you always thought the same way unable to see the changes in your thinking, beliefs, desires, awareness and opinions.
Our minds are unable to process big chunks of information consciously. Most of the data we perceive is processed subconsciously.
The mind, however, needs to establish some filters and automatizations in order to save energy it would otherwise spend to analyze all the information.
Mental Biases When There is Too Much Information to Be Processed:
Mental Bias: Availability Heuristic
Availability Heuristic is a mental shortcut that helps you make a decision based on the information you have about a certain subject overestimating the knowledge you already have. The things you are seeing constantly you think are reality for everyone everywhere.
The things people see on the news think are what’s happening in the world while they are just a tiny, but most captivating information the news companies filtered out to grab their viewers attention.
Mental Bias: Attentional Bias
Attentional Bias is the tendency for people’s perception to be affected by their recurring thoughts at the time. The type of thoughts you have will paint the reality you see in a certain place.
If two people go on a beautiful beach, but one of them just watched a scary shark movie, this person will have much different perception and experience of the beach than the person who didn’t watch the movie.
Mental Bias: Illusory Truth Effect
Illusory Truth Effect is the tendency to accept a statement as true the simpler it is for your brain to process it and the more times you heart it being stated.
If two politicians state they will fix the education system in their country, one says it simply and many times, but vaguely, and the other explains it complexly and once, but throughly, people will believe it the one who says it simply, many times even though it’s vaguely.
Mental Bias: Mere Exposure Effect
Mere Exposure Effect is a psychological phenomenon whereby people feel a preference and trustworthiness for people or things simply because they are familiar.
If you enter a supermarket wanting to buy a drink, and there are countless drink products you can choose from, you will decide to buy a product you were previously exposed to. Maybe someone you know drank it or you’ve watched an ad or commercial, but you’ll choose it merely because you have previously seen it and find it familiar. It doesn’t mean it’s better than the rest of the products. So, instead of researching all products to learn how they are made, it’s easier to filter and choose based on familiarity.
Mental Bias: Context Effect
Context Effect is a psychological phenomena where a change of context can affect the way we perceive reality. The way the context changes can change the way we construct reality even though nothing has changed.
If you see someone taking food from a homeless person while they sleep, you’ll see them as evil. However, if it turns out the context behind the situation was that the person taking the food knew the food was poisoned, so he tries to take it before the homeless man wakes up and eats it, you will see it as a Nobel act of heroism and kindness. The whole reality of the perceived situation has changed only because the context changed.
Mental Bias: Cue Dependent Forgetting
Cue Dependent Forgetting is a mental tendency of linking memory with certain cues and objects, and your mind fails to recall those memories without those certain cues.
If someone tries and fails to recollect the memories he had about a vacation he went on, and someone mentions the fact that he hired a classic car during this vacation, this may make him remember all sorts of things from that trip, such as what he ate there, where he went and what books he read.
Mental Bias: Mood Congruent Memory Bias
Mood Congruent Memory Bias is the tendency to recall memories that are congruent with your current mood. It’s the phenomena to be interested in things that are congruent with your current mood.
If you are in a happy mood you will recall memories that made you happy. If you are in a sad mood you will recall sad memories. If you are in a sad mood you will have the tendency to want to listen to sad songs that are congruent with your sad mood whilst, if you are in a happy mood you will have the tendency to want to listen uplifting and happy music.
Mental Bias: Frequency Illusion
Frequency Illusion is a phenomena that happens after we learn a new information and we start seeing and noticing it everywhere. It’s because our reticular activation system is primed to notice it after we learn it.
If you learn a new word and what it means you will start hearing it everywhere. It’s because after you learn it it’s in your awareness and you are primed to notice it. Other times when it wasn’t in your awareness you just ignored it.
Mental Bias: Empathy Gap
Empathy Gap is a mental fallacy to understand the reality of a certain individual if they do not share the same emotional state. Empathy toward someone might make you judge the reality of their situation falsely.
If you see a person being angry and throwing tantrums you will see their behavior as unreasonable and childish. But if you are really angry you will not realize how others perceive your behavior thinking your momentary goals driven by the anger are your long term goals. If you judge a criminal you don’t know it will be much easier to give a verdict than if the person being judged is a relative of yours you have empathy for.
Mental Bias: Omission Bias
Omission Bias is a mental fallacy to judge harmful actions much worse than inactions that are equally harmful just because the actions and their outcomes are more seeable.
If you and someone you need to compete with enter a restaurant before the game. The person is allergic to a certain ingredient in a food in the menu and you know it. Ordering that food for them will be judged much worse than stoping them from ordering it themselves. If you order this food for them it will be considered as much worse action than doing nothing if they order this food for themselves. The result is equally harmful.
Mental Bias: Base Rate Fallacy
Base Rate Fallacy is a mental fallacy to come to a conclusion based on some exact information that has almost nothing to do with the result ignoring the base information.
If there is a city with 100 million people population and only 100 of these people are criminals it’s not smart to insert criminal recognition cameras if they have 1% failure rate. This, even though counter intuitive, is a correct statement because even though the cameras might catch 99 criminals they will also catch 999,999 innocent people. The tendency to overlook this fact is the nature of this fallacy. It’s used in marketing to highlight information that means nothing in reality with a tendency to make a product more attractive. There might be something like “This product gives you 100% Vitamin C” and it means nothing. It doesn’t say how much of the vitamin there is in the product nor explains 100% of what. And of course if there is any Vitamin C inside you’ll get 100% of it if you consume the product. However, showing this on the product creates an illusion that it’s healthy without any lies.
Mental Bias: Bizarreness Effect
Bizarreness Effect is the tendency of your mind to better remember some bizarre material than common material. The strangest something appears the bigger the chance is for us to remember it.
If you need to remember your grocery list of Milk, Gums, Broccoli, and Onions, it’s much more effective if you use the first letters of the groceries MGBO to create a bizarre sentence than a normal one. You will remember more something like “My Green Baboon Ollie” than “My Good Baby Ollie”.
Mental Bias: Humor Effect
Humor Effect is a psychological phenomenon that causes people to remember information better when that information is perceived as funny or humorous.
If you were given a rough chunk of information on a list you can read in one minute, and you are given a 5 minute video of funny animation that explains the same information, you will remember much better and much faster the information from the funny animation video even though it’s longer just because it’s humorous.
Mental Bias: Von Restorff Effect
Von Restorff Effect is a mental tendency to remember the thing that differs the most. It predicts that when multiple homogeneous stimuli are presented, the stimulus that differs the most will be most remembered.
If you are given 6 balls where 5 red balls and 1 green ball, you will remember the green ball better just because it differs from the red balls.
Mental Bias: Picture Superiority Effect
Picture Superiority Effect is the mental tendency to remember pictures with information 6 times better than just words. The human memory is extremely sensitive to symbolic modality of information.
If you attend a presentation of 10 minutes without a slideshow of images you will remember 10% of the presentation after 3 days. If you attend a presentation of 20 minutes with slideshow of images that explain the information in a symbolic manner you will remember 65% of the presentation after 3 days.
Mental Bias: Self Relevance Effect
Self Relevance Effect is the mental tendency to better remember information that is implied as somehow personally related to them than the same information if implied as unrelated to the person.
If a person who is fat is presented a hygiene product by two commercials with two different people, one person who is also fat, and the other person who is fit and exercises during promoting the same product, the person will remember and be more influenced by the commercial with the fat presenter.
Mental Bias: Negativity Bias
Negativity Bias is a mental tendency to remember negative things over positive things even though the outcome of both events might be the same or have a neutral result.
If you walk on a street and find 20$ bill as you go to work, and this happens 3 times in one month, but at the same month you lose 50$ somewhere, you will remember losing 50$ much more than finding 60$ in total, even though you did not lose any of your own money, and you were lucky enough to find 60$ the same month, 10$ being still in the positive.
Mental Bias: Distinction Bias
Distinction Bias is the tendency to view two options as more distinctive when evaluating them simultaneously than when evaluating them separately.
If you know two identical twins you probably think they are the same. You cannot distinguish one from the other. But if they both come and you compare them simultaneously you will notice many things they are different in.
Mental Bias: Anchoring Bias
Anchoring Bias is a cognitive bias for an individual to rely too heavily on an initial piece of information offered when making decisions, especially the first one. The trust of this information decides the intensity of their reliance.
If you were told that someone is a bad person before you meet them and you were given an information about something slightly bad they did, let’s say they shoplifted something, you will assume they are a bad person even though that might be the only bad thing they have ever did. You will look at them and filter their behavior through a prism of a bad person. However, if someone told you an information of something good this person did first, let’s say they helped an old lady cross the street, you will not take the shoplifting so seriously. They will be a good person for you despite it.
Mental Bias: Conservatism Bias
Conservatism Bias is a bias in human information processing, which refers to the tendency to revise one’s belief insufficiently when presented with new evidence. People emphasize pre existing information over new data.
If you believe in something, let’s say that exercising every day is healthy, and a new scientific research proved this not just to be wrong, but even unhealthy, you will not accept this new information immediately even though the belief you have is based on word of mouth information that stuck with you, and the research is based on real life results gathered through the scientific process of testing and evaluating real evidence.
Mental Bias: Contrast Effect
Contrast Effect is the enhancement or diminishment of perception, cognition or related performance as a result of exposure to a stimulus of lesser or greater value in the same dimension.
If you want to buy a pair of pants and the price on one of them says 100$ you will think twice about it and maybe not even buy them. But if the price says discount from 240$ to 120$ on the same pair of pants, it is more likely that you will buy them, even though 120$ is a higher price than 100$ just because you have a contrast of these pants being more expensive.
Mental Bias: Framing Effect
Framing Effect is the tendency for people to react to a particular choice in different ways depending on how it is presented. They tend to avoid risk when a positive frame is presented but seek risks with a negative frame.
If something bad happens at the start of your day, let’s say you hit your leg from the table, and you think to yourself the day started bad, you will look for negative things throughout your day. If later that day someone shows you a good opportunity you will look for risks, ignore it or think of it in a negative light. But if your day started with something positive happening to you, let’s say the person you like sent you a message, and you think to yourself that it is a good day, you will look at the same opportunity later that day in a much more positive light.
Mental Bias: Money Illusion
Money Illusion is the tendency of people to think of currency in nominal, rather than real, terms. People tend to look at the amount of money before the purchasing power.
If you have a choice to make 10K$ per month in a developing country or 20K$ per month in a first world country you will probably choose to make 20K$ per month in a first world country. However, the difference in cost of lifestyle, bills and other expenses in a first world country is almost three times higher than the monthly cost in developing countries. So 10K$ in a developing country might turn out to have much bigger purchasing power than 20K$ in a first world country. However, the amount of money is more appealing than their actual purchasing power.
Mental Bias: Weber Fechner Law
Weber Fechner Law is the tendency of the human mind to not perceive change as it becomes more complex. It’s a progressive distortion between the actual change in a physical stimulus and the perceived change.
If you are blindfolded and hold a weight in your hands of 1kg and someone adds another 1kg on your hand, you will notice the change. If you hold a 100kg weight with your hands, and someone adds the same 1kg, you will not perceive the change.
Mental Bias: Focusing Effect
Focusing Effect is a cognitive bias that occurs when people place too much importance on one aspect of an event, causing an error in accurately predicting the utility of a future outcome.
If you worked at a company where you disagreed with your manager and this led to arguing with him and eventually getting fired, you will think that disagreeing with your manager can lead you to getting fired. So in the next job you will avoid disagreeing with your manager. However, in reality, this piece of information, disagreeing with your manager, has nothing to do with getting fired. In fact, in some companies managers encourage employees to disagree with them openly. The previous manager might have had other issues with you or they might have been professionally limited to get a feedback. They might have had a big ego. The information you focused on, disagreeing with your manager, was a false pattern you recognized in the chaos of not knowing what you did wrong. It gives you a sense of security in knowing how to control your future behavior but it’s not based on reality and it’s not tested in more than one scenario. It’s just a random information you consciously or subconsciously chose to focus on and look at reality through that imaginary filter.
Mental Bias: Congruence Bias
Congruence Bias occurs when people over rely on directly testing a given hypothesis as well as neglecting indirect testing. We stuck with one hypothesis not questioning its validity and the possibility of other ones.
If you were told that the left button of two buttons doesn’t open the door, and you were asked to test this hypothesis and find out what button really opens the door, you will click the left button. Let’s say the door doesn’t open. You will come to a conclusion that the right button opens the door, where in fact, neither of the buttons open the door. The same might happen with circling the same place you think you left your keys, not questioning if there is another place you might have left your keys at.
Mental Bias: Confirmation Bias
Confirmation Bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues or deeply entrenched beliefs.
If you hold a belief that wearing your favorite team’s jersey while they play will grow their chances to win, you will overvalue the times you wore that jersey and your favorite team won, while you will overlook the times you wore that jersey and your favorite team lost. Even though your team might have lost more times you wore that jersey than they won, you will selectively gather evidence that confirm your preexisting belief because it takes a lot of energy for your mind to uninstall or reframe a belief.
Mental Bias: Post Purchase Rationalization
Post Purchase Rationalization is a cognitive bias whereby someone who has purchased an expensive product or service overlooks any faults or defects in order to justify their purchase.
If you can’t decide between two games, but eventually you come to terms to buy one of them, and the other one turns out to have better reviews, you will rationalize the greatness of the game you have purchased. You will start giving sour grape arguments, some of them might be how it’s best you bought this game because it’s not as addictive as the other one. It’s easier for your mind to handle financial and emotional investment than dealing with remorse on top of those.
Mental Bias: Selective Perception
Selective Perception is the tendency not to notice or quickly forget stimuli that contradict our beliefs. People tend to perceive what they feel is right, completely ignoring opposing viewpoints.
If you watch a show on TV about healthy eating habits with someone who strongly beliefs that diets are wrong and eating meat is healthy. And let’s say the doctor on TV is explaining the benefits of not eating meat and the harmful effects of various diets. The person watching with you, who wants to eat meat, will not even perceive the things being said about the benefits of not eating meat, but they will be strongly agreeing with everything being said against diets. In their mind, the show is about why you shouldn’t take diets. They might even say all diets are harmful because they watched a doctor on TV say so.
Mental Bias: Choice Supportive Bias
Choice Supportive Bias is the tendency to retroactively ascribe positive attributes to an option we’ve selected. We tend to amplify the advantages of the selected option and not notice the bigger benefits of the other one.
If you can’t choose between two clubs but eventually you choose one of them, and it turns out to be ok, but the other club was slightly better, you will exaggerate the fun you had at the club you’ve chosen even though the other one is slightly better. Your mind will see the option you’ve chosen as better to prevent yourself from feeling regret for a small difference in the quality of the option.
Mental Bias: Observer Expectancy Effect
Observer Expectancy Effect is a form of reactivity in which a researcher’s expectancy causes them to subconsciously influence the participants of an experiment.
If a teacher believes some children are smarter than the other in the class, they will subconsciously act differently towards them, no matter how objective they try to be. Let’s say they want to test if they are right, if the children they believe are smarter are really smarter. So the teacher will observe how the children perform for a month. However, the teacher’s sole behavior towards the two groups of children might influence the results. The teacher might behave differently toward the two groups in ways that lead them to perform better or worse than the others, such as giving those children they believe are smarter extra attention and praise.
Mental Bias: Experimenter’s Bias
Experimenter’s Bias is the phenomena to have errors in a research study due to the predisposed notions or beliefs of the experimenter. The experimenter’s beliefs influence the outcome of the experiment.
If a male scientist has a preexisting belief that males choose more the color blue rather than the color red just because that’s his choice, he might influence the construction of the experiment with this bias. He might subconsciously skew the selection of subjects, the administration of the experiment, the analysis of the data, or the conclusions drawn to fit his belief. That’s why the experiments should be created by someone unbiased, someone who doesn’t care neither for blue nor red color.
Mental Bias: Observer Effect
Observer Effect is the occurrence where simply observing a situation or phenomenon changes that phenomenon. This is often the result of instruments altering the state of what they measure in some manner.
If you try to observe quantum particles without having any effect on them, and you need light to be able to observe them, the sole photons you will need for observation will alter the states of the quantum particles, hence, your observation will have an effect on the quantum particles you are trying to observe and change the measured result.
Mental Bias: Expectation Bias
Expectation Bias is the tendency for experimenters to believe or disbelieve, publish or discard data that agree with their expectations for the outcome of an experiment.
If you make an experiment about rolling a dice believing that the outcome will be the dice rolls more times on one, you might not accept the randomness of the result, you might create additional experiments to prove you are right instead of publishing the data of the first experiment that hinted the dice has no pattern when it rolls.
Mental Bias: Ostrich Effect
Ostrich Effect is the tendency to ignore a dangerous or risky situation with intention that it will go away or not affect us. People keep a problem out from their mind instead of tackling the situation which threatens them.
If a child is sleeping alone and hears a scary sound it will hide under the blanket, even though if there is real danger the blanket doesn’t provide any safety. Similarly we behave with problems. Let’s say you have bills you need to pay but you don’t have enough money. Instead of tackling this problem and finding a solution you distract yourself by watching TV or sports. But not thinking about the problem, even though it gives a momentary relief, is not solving the problem. And you can use the same time and energy to find a solution instead of distracting yourself from the unease that comes by thinking about the problem.
Mental Bias: Subjective Validation
Subjective Validation is a cognitive bias by which a person will consider a statement or another piece of information to be correct if it has any personal meaning or significance for them.
If you have blonde hair and you feel good when you eat fruits and veggies and someone tells you it’s because people with blonde hair have natural predisposition to metabolize fruits and veggies, you will believe this to be true just because the information has personal significance for you. However, most people feel good when they eat healthy foods and their hair color has nothing to do with any of it.
Mental Bias: Continued Influence Effect
Continued Influence Effect is the tendency to keep believing an information that you consciously know has been proven to be false. It refers to the way that falsehoods persist in our thinking.
If you see a commercial about a juice brand and they portray it as a healthy addition to a healthy breakfast including bacon and potatoes, you will believe that a healthy breakfast includes bacon, potatoes and juice. However, let’s say researchers prove that this combination is not so healthy. No matter if you consciously know this, an image of healthy breakfast for you will still include the juice, the bacon and the potatoes.
Mental Bias: Semmelweis Reflex
Semmelweis Reflex is the tendency to reject new evidence or new knowledge because it contradicts established norms, beliefs and paradigms. People lean more to previous knowledge rather than evidence.
If you believe that eating meat is healthy for you and new research comes saying eating meat is harmful for your health, you will not accept it, at least not immediately. People will justify that you need a little meat here and there, they will justify their belief with examples of people who are healthy and who ate meat all their life, maybe even that the research is flawed. And even if more evidence arises that consuming meat is unhealthy, you will most likely create an aversion toward people who accept this new lifestyle, by calling them names and labeling them as something. This is all because you are defending your previously established belief, it’s not about the people who believe the new research, it’s not about you knowing some better information, it’s just because you find it hard to remove an old belief and seek ways to make justification easier.
Mental Bias: Bias Blind Spot
Bias Blind Spot is the tendency of recognizing the impact of biases on the judgment of others, while failing to see the impact of biases on oneself. We have a blindspot for our own cognitive flaws.
If you read about biases and you speak with someone, you will most likely notice their cognitive flaws, or at least you will think you do. Let’s say they find it hard to accept new information you tell them and you point out to them they just made a cognitive fallacy, one where the person rejects new evidence because it contradicts established beliefs. However, you are blind to the fact that you yourself might be under influence of a bias, one where you have a selective perception. Maybe the person is simply not trusting the information you are telling them because it’s not supported by any research and evidence, and you assume it’s their bias talking. Maybe if they have some concrete evidence to look at they will accept the new information. In this scenario you are blind to your own bias of preselective perception.
Mental Bias: Naive Cynicism
Naive Cynicism is the phenomena when people naively expect more egocentric bias in others than actually is the case. They assume someone has egocentric intentions and filter things through this belief.
If you think a person thinks bad of you, and this is not based on any real evidence, you will assume their decisions are against you. Let’s say you speak with them and they sincerely say they do not like your outfit, you will perceive this argument as a personal attack even if it’s the kindest and most friendly advice they are trying to give. You’ll assume they say this with intention to appear as better than you.
Mental Bias: Naive Realism
Naive Realism is the cognitive fallacy to think that the senses provide us with direct awareness of objects as they really are. People tend to overly rely on the sense of sight and touch, as well as the other senses.
If you observe the world around you it’s very likely that you think reality is the way you perceive it. However, your senses absorb just a tiny amount of information from the world around you. Your eyes perceive less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum, your ears can hear less than 1% of the acoustic spectrum. Animals perceive things from reality you can’t because they have evolved different senses. And even the information you perceive sometimes is skewed. Even more, the biggest chunk of data, more than 90% is outside of your awareness processed by your subconsciousness. And yet, people think the reality they perceive is all there is of reality while they see just a tiny glimpse of what there is. Even memories get distorted due to memory distortion and remembering filters, and do not depict the exact reality of the situations you remember.