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Unlikely Optimism: The Conjunctive Events Bias

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https://fs.blog/2020/04/conjunctive-events-bias/

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Unlikely Optimism: The Conjunctive Events Bias
When certain events need to take place to achieve a desired outcome, we're overly optimistic that those events will happen. Here's why we should temper those expectations. *** Why are we so optimistic in our estimation of the cost and schedule of a project? Why are we so surprised when something inevitably goes wrong?

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The conjunctive events bias

The conjunctive events bias

We often overestimate the likelihood of events that must happen in conjunction with one another.

We are optimistic in our estimation of the cost and schedule and surprised when somethi...

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Conjunctive events

  • Broader categories are always more probable than their subsets. It's more likely someone has a pet than they have a cat. It's more likely someone likes coffee than they like cappuccinos.&n...

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The best plans often fail

The best plans often fail

A plan is like a system. A change in one component of a system will likely impact the functionality of other parts of the system. 

The more steps involved in a plan, the higher the c...

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Consider your assumptions

Just because we know and understand the concept of conjunctive events bias, we are not automatically immune to it.

When we are planning, it is useful to run through our assumptions wi...

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Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” 

Dwight D. Eisenhower

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The sunk cost fallacy

It plays on this tendency of ours to emphasize loss over gain.

The term sunk cost refers to any cost that has been paid already and cannot be recovered. The reason we can't ignore the cost, even though it's already been paid, is that we're wired to feel loss far more strongly than gain.

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Data is Not Reality

  • We see organizations and the engineers who work in them steering towards big data, so it is commonly assumed that data means acumen and direction.
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  • Data is also, never complete. Getting more and more Data does not equate to getting more clarity.

Incomplete Data is Misleading

Our brains like to fill up incomplete information based on our prejudice and confirmation bias.

As all data is inherently incomplete, we use our minds to fill the missing information, based on the existing data we have, and that can go obverse.

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The Way We Delude Ourselves

The Way We Delude Ourselves

Cognitive Biases are a collection of faulty and illogical ways of thinking which are hardwired in the brain, most of which we aren’t aware of.

The idea of cognitive biases was invented ...

Hyperbolic Discounting

It's a tendency to heavily weigh the moment which is closer to the present, as compared to something in the near or distant future.

Example: If you are offered a choice of $150 right now or $180 after 30 days, you would be more inclined to choose the money you are offered right now. However, if we take the present moment out of the equation, and put this offer in the distant future, where you are offered $150 in 12 months or $180 in 13 months, your choice is likely to be the latter one.

Common Biases

  • Actor-Observer Bias: the way the explanation of other people’s behaviour tends to focus on the influence of their personality while being less focused on the situation while being just the opposite while explaining one’s own behaviour.
  • Zeigarnik Effect: when something unfinished and incomplete tends to linger in the mind and memory.
  • The IKEA Effect: when our own assembling of an object is placed at a higher value than the other objects.
  • Optimism Bias: makes us underestimate the cost and duration for every project we try to undertake or plan.
  • Availability Bias: makes us believe whatever is more easily available to our consciousness, and is more vivid (or entrenched) in our memory.

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