Common Mistakes in Human Thoughts

Confirmation Bias
It is the tendency to look for or interpret information in a way that confirms beliefs. Individuals reinforce their ideas and attitudes by selectively collecting evidence or retrieving biased memories. This allows inaccurate information to be held as true.


Availability Heuristic
It is calculating things based on vivid memories. The problem is individuals tend to remember unusual events more than everyday, commonplace events. For example, airplane crashes receive lots of national media coverage while fatal car crashes do not. However, more people are afraid of flying than driving a car, even though statistically airplane travel is safer. Media coverage feeds into this bias; because rare or unusual events such as medical errors, animal attacks and natural disasters are highly publicized, people perceive these events as having a higher probability of happening. 

Illusion of Control
This is the tendency to believe someone can control or at least influence outcomes that they clearly have no influence on. This bias can influence gambling behavior and belief in the paranormal.

Planning Fallacy
The Planning fallacy is the tendency to underestimate the time needed to complete tasks. The planning fallacy actually stems from another error, The Optimism Bias, which is the tendency for individuals to be overly positive about the outcome of planned actions. People are more susceptible to the planning fallacy when the task is something they have never done before. The reason for this is because we estimate based on past experiences. For example, if I asked you how long it takes you to grocery shop, you will consider how long it has taken you in the past, and you will have a reasonable answer. If I ask you how long it will take you to do something you have never done before, like climbing Mount Everest, you have no experience to reference, and because of your inherent optimism, you will guesstimate less time than you really need.

Interesting Fact: “Realistic pessimism” is a phenomenon where depressed or overly pessimistic people more accurately predict task completion estimations. 

Restraint Bias
The Restraint Bias is the tendency to overestimate one’s ability to show restraint in the face of temptation, or the “perceived ability to have control over an impulse,” generally relating to hunger, drug and sexual impulses. The truth is people do not have control over visceral impulses; you can ignore hunger, but you cannot wish it away. You might find the saying: “the only way to get rid of temptation is to give into it” amusing, however, it is true. If you want to get rid of you hunger, you have to eat. For example, most addicts’ say that they can “quit anytime they want to,” but this is rarely the case in real life.




Just-World Phenomenon
The Just-World Phenomenon is when witnesses of an injustice, in order to rationalize it, will search for things that the victim did to deserve it. This eases their anxiety and allows them to feel safe; if they avoid that behavior, injustice will not happen to them. This peace of mind comes at the expense of blaming the innocent victim. 

Interesting Fact: On the other end of the spectrum, The Mean World Theory is a phenomenon where, due to violent television and media, viewers perceive the world as more dangerous than it really is, prompting excessive fear and protective measures.

Endowment Effect
This is the idea that people will require more to give up an object than they would pay to acquire it. It is based on the hypothesis that people place a high value on their property. Example: If I buy a coffee mug today for one dollar, and tomorrow demand two dollars for it, I have no rationality for asking for the higher price. This happens frequently when people sell their cars and ask more than the book value of the vehicle, and nobody wants to pay the price.

Interesting Fact: this bias is linked to two theories; “loss aversion” says that people prefer to avoid losses rather than obtain gains, and “status quo” bias says that people hate change and will avoid it unless the incentive to change is significant.

Self-Serving Bias
This occurs when an individual attributes positive outcomes to internal factors and negative outcomes to external factors. A good example of this is grades, when I get a good grade on a test; I attribute it to my intelligence, or good study habits. When I get a bad grade, I attribute it to a bad professor, or poorly written exam. This is very common as people regularly take credit for successes but refuse to accept responsibility for failures. 

Interesting Fact: when considering the outcomes of others, we attribute causes exactly the opposite as we do to ourselves. When we learn that the person who sits next to us failed the exam, we attribute it to an internal cause: that person is stupid or lazy. Likewise, if they aced the exam, they got lucky, or the professor likes them more. 



Cryptomnesia
A form of misattribution where a memory is mistaken for imagination. It is actually a memory bias where a person (inaccurately) recalls producing an idea or thought. It should be noted that there is no scientific proof to validate Cryptomnesia.

Bias Blind Spot
The tendency not to acknowledge one’s own thought biases. In a research study conducted by Emily Pronin of Princeton University, participants were described different cognitive biases such as the Halo Effect and Self-Serving Bias. When asked how biased the participants themselves were, they rated themselves as less biased than the average person.

Interesting Fact: Amazingly, there is actually a bias to explain this bias (imagine that!). The Better-Than-Average Bias is the tendency for people to inaccurately rate themselves as better than the average person on socially desirable skills or positive traits. Coincidentally, they also rate themselves as lower than average on undesirable traits.
 

5 comments:

I Emilie :) said...

This is one of the best posts I read lately, very simple and so accurate. In many ways, I met myself, my fears and my hopes. Brilliant... Love it

Rany said...

The first one "confirmation bias" is a widespread disease in Lebanon and it's a catalyst for brain washing.
Nice post, informative, I like it.

Chantal Akkary said...

Very well done :)

ritakmnl said...

Humans are full of defects! And yet, they think they can talk objectively..humm, makes me wonder.. On another note, I like this post, very informative :)

ritakml said...

Humans are full of defects! And yet, they think they can talk objectively..humm, makes me wonder.. On another note, I like this post, very informative :)