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: assuming that there must be a tradeoff between the various advantages and disadvantages of each option, so that the options must be balanced overall.
  • Common correlations: certain types of tradeoffs or problems tend to be frequently correlated with each other, which can cause people to assume that they exist even in situations where they don’t.
  • Previous experience: people mistakenly assume that a certain situation is zero-sum because they were exposed to similar situations in the past that were in fact zero-sum. 

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