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Projection Bias

Projection Bias

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 Origin And History Of Projection Bias

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).



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How Entities Can Take Undue Advantage Of Projection Bias In People

How Entities Can Take Undue Advantage Of Projection Bias In People

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...


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The Psychology and Causes of Projection Bias

The Psychology and Causes of Projection Bias

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.


139 reads

Failure to Learn from Mispredictions

Failure to Learn from Mispredictions

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:

  • A person’s desire to feel that they understand themself well can...


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How to Deal With Projection Bias

How to Deal With Projection Bias

  • Understand what this bias is and what causes it.
  • Understand when and how this bias can affect people in general.
  • Be aware of common projection traps, such as underestimating the influence of visceral factors, overestimating the likelihood of following up on future plans, and ...


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How Projection Bias Influences Our Behaviour

How Projection Bias Influences Our Behaviour

  • It can cause people who are making summer vacation plans during the winter to pick overly warm destinations, because they overestimate how much they will want to be somewhere warm during the summer, due to the current winter conditions.
  • It can cause diners to order too much food at t...


201 reads

Factors That Influence Attributes

Factors That Influence Attributes

Factors that change people’s attributes over time can be categorized based on whether they are:

  • Personal (or dispositional), as in the case of maturation or general mood fluctuation.
  • Environmental (or situational), as in the case of influence from peers or influence from a cert...


106 reads

The Hungry Shopper

The Hungry Shopper

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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Other Types Of Projection Bias

Other Types Of Projection Bias

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...


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