Learn more about problemsolving with this collection
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We think nostalgically about the past and see the world going downhill from there.
Example: “Back then, we never even thought about locking our doors!”
Collective beliefs grow stronger the more people parrot them.
Example: A study linking vaccines to autism (despite being disproved) compels many to avoid them altogether.
We take comfort in consistency and see any disruption as a burden.
Example: Despite being in a toxic relationship, Jack doesn’t want to go through the trouble of breaking up (and going on first dates again).
We’re reluctant to pivot from a strategy in which we’ve already invested so much time and energy.
Example: You keep watching the movie or reading the book even though it sucks.
Believing a random event is more or less likely to happen based on preceding events.
Example: The roulette ball landed on black the last four times, so you decide to put everything on red.
We would rather nip small risks in the bud even when another strategy would mitigate overall risk.
Example: You opt for that sugar-free soda, not realizing the artificial sweeteners it contains might actually be worse for you.
The tendency to interpret the same information differently depending on context.
Example: You perceive wine as better tasting when it’s served in a crystal glass versus a plastic cup.
We fall back on surface-level beliefs about a group instead of looking at individuals within that group.
Example: “That guy with the tie-dye T-shirt must be a pothead.”
We view our ingroups as diverse and outgroups as all the same.
Example: Brad doesn’t own a gun and assumes anyone who does has violent tendencies.
The tendency to put our faith in authority figures.
Example: “The President said it, so it must be true!”
The power of the mind to bring about the desired effect from an ineffective treatment.
Example: In a clinical trial, 80% of those who took a sugar pill reported signs of improvement.
Focusing on successes and ignoring failures.
Example: You assume entrepreneurship is easy because all you see are successful founders in magazines.
We perceive time differently when under stress or trauma.
Example: “When the robber pulled a gun on me, everything seemed to stop.”
We spend inordinate amounts of time and effort on trivial issues while ignoring the ones that matter.
Example: The mayor devotes an entire committee to keeping the sidewalk clean but does nothing to help the homeless.
We tend to recall interrupted tasks more than completed ones.
Example: Despite earning perfect marks in his annual company review, Bill fixates on that one project he dropped the ball on and feels guilty every time he comes to work.
We tend to value things more when we have a part in their creation.
Example: “Isn’t this a beautiful coffee table? I put it together myself!”
Doing a favor for someone else makes us more likely to do more versus returning a favor they did for us.
Example: You didn’t like Brad at first, but after he asked for your advice, you've been looking for more ways to help him.
We are less likely to intervene in a bad situation when there are more people around.
Example: Everyone just watched instead of calling 911 when the bar fight turned ugly.
When your self-perception changes in response to a leading question.
Example: You call in sick from work, and your boss asks, “How did you get COVID?”
Our tendency to see patterns in randomness.
Example: “That cloud looks like a rider on horseback.”
The overestimation that only bad things will happen.
Example: “It can only get worse from here!”
We call others out for biases while insisting we have none.
Example: “I’m not biased; you are.”
"Money doesn't buy class." ~ Kiana Tom
This is the second part of 50 cognitive biases, as tweeted by Elon Musk. These are a must read for understanding human behaviour, including our own.
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