9 Most Famous Cognitive Biases

We tend to submit to hundreds of different biases and deceptions that make us think and act irrationally. In fact, hundreds of biases that force us to think and act irrationally affect us. The belief that we behave rationally despite the evidence of our irrationality is referred to as the “cognitive blind spot.

A study on how often people behave irrationally was enough for psychologist Daniel Kahneman to get the Nobel Prize in economics and was at the beginning of a rapidly developing field of behavioural economics.

In today’s article, we will describe some of the most common cognitive biases.

1. The Affect Heuristic

Psychologist Paul Slovic introduced this term to describe how people allow their emotions to change their perception of the outside world. For example, your political opinions often decide which arguments you consider reliable.

Our emotions also affect the way we perceive the risks and benefits of different activities. For example, people worry about getting cancer and view cancer-related activities as more dangerous than those associated with less worrying deaths, illnesses or injuries.

2. The Anchoring

The Anchoring is the bias when people rely too much on the first received information.

For example, during the wage bargaining process, the person making the first bid sets a range of acceptable options in the mind of the second person. Any subsequent offer will naturally respond to or be anchored to that initial offer.

Most people have a firm belief that they should never make an offer first,” said Leigh Thompson, professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwest University. “Our research and many supporting studies prove the opposite. The first bidder is in a better starting position.

3. The Bandwagon Effect

The likelihood of a person accepting an opinion increases with the number of those who hold a similar belief. The Bandwagon Effect is a very powerful form of group thinking – and it is why collective meetings are often so unproductive.

4. The Choice-supportive Bias

When we decide on something, we tend to perceive such a decision positively, even if our choice has its mistakes. The result is that the person tends to remember their past decisions as right (positive) and the other unelected options as bad (negative), regardless of reality. Therefore, a person can easily convince himself of falsehood.

5. The Conformity

Conformity is tendencies to accept the opinions of others. It is such a strong urge that it can influence people to do truly incredible things, as demonstrated by the following experiment by Solomon Asch.

He put a participant into a group of fake participants and they supposed to quest which of lines A, B or C has the same length as the Target line. If all the false participants claimed that B has the same length as Target Line, the real participant of the experiment agreed with this objectively wrong answer.


6. The Confirmation Bias

It is a form of cognitive bias when people tend to accept information that supports their point of view.

For example, the researchers let participants watch a video of students writing a paper. Some participants were told that these students came from the high socioeconomic environment; others have been told that they come from a low socioeconomic background. Those in the first group were convinced that the student’s results were above average, while those in the second group believed that the results of the paper were below average.

7. The Decoy Effect

A marketing phenomenon where consumers change their preferences of choice from two options after being offered the third option.


The ad offers three levels of subscription

  1. $ 59 for the Internet version
  2. $ 125 for the printed version
  3. $ 125 for the printed + internet version

The scientist concluded that the possibility of paying $ 125 for the printed version only exists to make the internet + printed version of $ 125 more attractive.

8. The Illusion of Control

People tend to overestimate their ability to control the development of the situation.

For example, sports fans think that their thoughts or behaviour may affect the match.

9. The Negativity Bias

The tendency to place more emphasis on negative experiences instead of positive ones. People suffering from this distortion feel that “negative is stronger than positive” and they will perceive threats rather than positives in a particular situation.

Psychologists believe that this is an evolutionary adaptation – it is better to mistake a rock with a bear than a bear with a rock.

In modern society, negativity bias has a significant impact on our partnership. John Gottman, Partner Relationship Specialist, found that maintaining a stable relationship requires that positive experiences occur at least five times more often than negative experiences.

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