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Projection bias is a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate the degree to which their future attributes (e.g., tastes and beliefs) will resemble their current ones. Essentially, this bias leads people to engage in flawed self-forecasting, by projecting their current attributes onto their future selves, and thus underestimating how much their attributes will likely change over time.
Projection bias can strongly influence people’s thoughts, statements, and actions in various domains, so it’s important to understand it.
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The projection bias is attributed to a 2003 paper titled “Projection bias in predicting future utility”, by researchers George Loewenstein, Ted O’Donoghue, and Matthew Rabin (published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, Volume 118, Issue 4, pages 1209–1248).
Projection Bias is sometimes used to refer to people's tendency to project their beliefs, values, characteristics, and behaviours unto others, and to consequently overestimate the degree to which these things are shared with others, a phenomenon that’s sometimes referred to as social projection o...
People often fail to learn from past mispredictions of their future attributions, and therefore continue to repeatedly display the same type of projection bias over time. This can happen due to various reasons, such as:
The projection bias means that even though people generally understand the direction in which their attributes will change over time, they systematically underestimate the magnitude of this change, so their prediction lies between their current attributes and their actual future attributes.
Some entities may also take advantage of people’s projection bias intentionally, as in the case of companies that do so to influence people’s shopping patterns.
Example: Companies may encourage overconsumption by encouraging people to purchase large quantities of a certain product in advanc...
Factors that change people’s attributes over time can be categorized based on whether they are:
An example of the projection bias is that a person who is grocery shopping while hungry will likely buy more food than they really need, because they assume that they will keep being as hungry in the future, even after they’ve eaten.
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