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The Zero-Sum Bias: When People Think that Everything is a Competition

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The Zero-Sum Bias: When People Think that Everything is a Competition
The zero-sum bias is a cognitive bias that causes people to mistakenly view certain situations as being zero-sum, meaning that they incorrectly believe that one party's gains are directly balanced by other parties' losses.

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The zero-sum bias

A cognitive bias that causes people to mistakenly believe that one party’s gains are directly balanced by other parties’ losses.

This bias encourages belief in an antagonistic natur...

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Zero-sum bias effects

It can generally be said to affect people on two scales:

  • Individual scale. It causes people to mistakenly assume that there is intra-group competition for a certain resource, betw...

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Examples of the zero-sum bias

Examples of the zero-sum bias
  • People sometimes view membership in social groups as being zero-sum: belonging to one social group excludes you from being a member of a different group.
  • People sometimes view

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Why we experience the zero-sum bias

  • Mistaken belief in limited resources: assumeing that a certain resource is more limited than is actually the case.
  • Mistaken belief in trade-off consistency: assu...

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How to avoid the zero-sum bias

To reduce the degree to which you experience the zero-sum bias, you need to identify cases where you assume that a certain situation is zero-sum, and then assess the situation rationally in ...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The Just-World Hypothesis

The Just-World Hypothesis

Is a cognitive bias that causes us to assume that people’s actions always lead to fair consequences, meaning that those who do good are eventually rewarded, while those who do evil are eventually p...

Why poeple believe is a just world

  • Belief in a just world can serve as motivation for making long-term efforts.
  • Belief in a just world can serve as a coping mechanism for everyday struggles.
  • Belief in a just world can help people cope with existential issuesby providing them with a sense of purpose.
  • Belief in a just world can help people feel in control, because they believe their future will be determined by their actions.

Factors influencing the Just World bias

  • Various background factors, such as religion and ethnicity, can affect the likelihood that people will display just-world beliefs, and the degree to which they will display them.
  • Various situational factors can also affect the degree to which people believe in a just world. For example, being in a good mood reduces people’s tendency to blame innocent victims, while being in a bad mood increases this tendency.

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The bandwagon effect

It's a cognitive bias that causes people to think or act in a certain manner because they believe that other people are doing the same.

For example, the bandwagon effect might cause...

Examples of the bandwagon effect

  • The bandwagon effect can influence people’s political choices.
  • It can influence consumers’ decisions regarding which products to buy.
  • It can influence users’ decisions regarding how to rate stories or comments.
  • It can influence investors’ financial choices.
  • It can influence doctors’ medical decisions.
  • It can influence organizations’ implementation of new technologies.

Why the bandwagon effect happens

It serves as a mental shortcut that people instinctively use in order to make a decision quickly.

Specifically, bandwagon cues, which are signs that other people believe something or are doing something, can trigger the thought that “if other people like this, then I should too”.

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The egocentric bias

The egocentric bias

It is a cognitive bias that causes people to rely too much on their own point of view when they examine or remember events in their life.

This means that people tend to either underest...

Examples of the egocentric bias

  • When you are giving a public talk, you assume that your nervousness is more apparent to others than is actually the case.
  • You overestimate the amount of work that you contributed to a group project.
  • You might believe that your colleagues all share your political beliefs and social values.
  • You might remember yourself as having been the key player in a past event, despite the fact that you only played a relatively minor role in it.

What causes the egocentric bias

It occurs primarily due to the fact that we tend to naturally examine and remember events primarily through our personal point of view.

Even when we realize that we should adjust our perspective to see things through other people’s eyes, we tend to anchor this new perspective to our own, and we often fail to adjust from our original viewpoint enough to properly assess how other people feel.

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