E005 - Don't Get Screwed: 10 Cognitive Biases to Know and Love

This time on Across The Peak we look into ten cognitive biases that may be plaguing your life, hampering your enjoyment or just making you an asshole.

Photo Credit: brandgenetics.com

Photo Credit: brandgenetics.com

Let's kick it off with the Self-Serving Bias. I'm not even going to make this one of the top ten, it's a freebie. The Self-Serving Bias is the belief that you are immune to the forces that influence the rest of humanity. If you can't get over this one you can't learn from any of the below. Ya feel me? 

1. Foot-in-door: The foot in the door technique (Freedman & Fraser, 1966) assumes that agreeing to a small request will increase the likelihood of agreeing to a second, larger request. So, initially someone will make a small request and once the person agrees to this small request, they find it more difficult to refuse the bigger request.

Door in the face: Refusing a large request increases the likelihood of agreeing to a second, smaller request. Initially you make a big request which a person can be expected to refuse. Then you make a smaller request (which is what you wanted in the first place) and the person finds it difficult to refuse you because they feel they shouldn’t always say no.

2. Confirmation Bias: The tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories. 

3. Projection: Is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. 

4. Cognitive Dissonance: This refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors. This produces stress, or a feeling of discomfort leading to an alteration in one of the attitudes, beliefs or behaviors to reduce the discomfort and restore balance, etc.

Photo Credit: vfpuk.org

Photo Credit: vfpuk.org

5. Obedience: Obedience is a form of social influence (not necessarily a cognitive bias) where an individual acts in response to a direct order from another individual, normally an authority figure. It is assumed that without such an order the person would not have acted in this way. Obedience involves a hierarchy of power / status. Therefore, the person giving the order has a higher status than the person receiving the order.


6. Framing Effect: Drawing different conclusions from the same information, depending on how that information is presented. Positive Frame-The product has been proven effective in 80% cases. Negative Frame - The product has failed to work on 2 out of every 10 cases.

7. Gambler's Fallacy: Also known as the Monte Carlo Fallacy, the Gambler's Fallacy occurs when an individual erroneously believes that a certain random event is less likely or more likely, given a previous event or a series of events. This line of thinking is incorrect because past events do not change the probability that certain events will occur in the future. Coin toss is a 50/50 event, but if heads comes up the first five times in a row, one may think, "Wow, it gotta be tails this time," when the probability is still 50/50...

8. Hostile Attribution Bias: This is the tendency to interpret others' behaviors as having hostile intent, even when the behavior is ambiguous or benign. "Those people over there laughing must be laughing at me..."

9. Irrational Escalation: The phenomenon where people justify increased investment in a decision, based on the cumulative prior investments, despite new evidence suggesting that the decision was probably wrong.

10. Illusory superiority (Dunning–Kruger effect): This is when people of low ability mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is. This derives from the inability of those of low-ability to recognize their own ineptitude. Thus, without the self-awareness of this metacognition,  those with low-ability cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence.

Book of the Week

How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff

Bonus Material!

Calculating mean, median, and mode: https://www.thoughtco.com/the-mean-median-and-mode-2312604

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Ralph Brown