Can you trust your own brain?

Our de­ci­sions are not al­ways our own thanks to the un­con­scious bi­ases buried in our brains

How It Works - - COTENTS -

Em­pa­thy gap

When we are be­ing log­i­cal (cold), we don’t un­der­stand how our de­ci­sions would dif­fer if we were emo­tional (hot). Con­versely, when we are emo­tional we don’t re­alise how much our de­ci­sions are be­ing in­flu­enced by emo­tion.

Fre­quency il­lu­sion

Have you no­ticed that when you learn a new word you start see­ing it ev­ery­where? Our brains have a habit of try­ing to see pat­terns, so we no­tice things more if they are in­ter­est­ing to us – like a new word.

Ostrich ef­fect

Hu­mans of­ten (metaphor­i­cally) bury their head in the sand. We choose to ig­nore the bad things that are hap­pen­ing, like not check­ing our bank ac­counts, rather than tackle the prob­lem.

Over­con­fi­dence bias

Some peo­ple may be over­con­fi­dent in their abil­i­ties be­cause of this bias and as a re­sult take greater risks in de­ci­sion-mak­ing, which may end pos­i­tively or neg­a­tively.

Scope in­sen­si­tiv­ity

Our brains are not very good at un­der­stand­ing scale. If we hear a dis­as­ter has im­pacted 200, 2,000 or 200,000 peo­ple, we re­act the same be­cause we can’t com­pre­hend the larger num­bers.

Band­wagon ef­fect

Peo­ple fol­low the crowd, mean­ing you might be more likely to vote for some­one be­cause they have more sup­port­ers even if they don’t align with your views.

An­chor­ing bias

We make our de­ci­sions from the first piece of in­for­ma­tion that we learn about a sub­ject. This is why we are more in­clined to buy some­thing when we see the orig­i­nal price placed next to the re­duced price.

Fun­da­men­tal at­tri­bu­tion er­ror

This is when we at­tribute the be­hav­iour of some­one to a char­ac­ter flaw rather than just an un­char­ac­ter­is­tic mo­ment. Some­one who snapped at you once is prob­a­bly not an an­gry per­son, but we think they are.

Se­lec­tive at­ten­tion

Our at­ten­tion is a lim­ited re­source, and we have to di­rect it on things specif­i­cally for it to work. Our brains fil­ter in­for­ma­tion in our en­vi­ron­ment to fo­cus on what is use­ful and ig­nores the rest.

Con­ser­vatism bias

Have you ever heard some­one say, ‘There’s noth­ing that will change my mind’? That is con­ser­vatism bias. We have a ten­dency to not up­date our views when faced with new ev­i­dence.

Choice-sup­port­ive bias

When you make a choice, it is prob­a­ble you will look back on it pos­i­tively to ra­tio­nalise your de­ci­sion, even if you see af­ter­wards that there were bet­ter op­tions.

Zero-risk bias

We pre­fer the elim­i­na­tion of all risk over a greater re­duc­tion in a larger risk (over­all), like choos­ing to clean up a small oil spill com­pletely, rather than us­ing the same money to clean up a gi­ant oil spill sig­nif­i­cantly.

Con­fir­ma­tion bias

When you be­lieve some­thing to be true, you see ev­i­dence that sup­ports it, like when you think some­one doesn’t like you, you are more likely to no­tice when they’re ‘off’ with you.

Sta­tus quo bias

The sta­tus quo bias is our pref­er­ence for things to stay the same. You might re­visit the same restau­rant or pur­chase the same brands just be­cause that’s what you have done in the past.

Sur­vivor­ship bias

You see so many books ev­ery day, you might think it is easy to pub­lish. This is an ex­am­ple of sur­vivor­ship bias, as you have not seen the many more that didn’t make it to the pub­lish­ing stage.

Neg­a­tiv­ity bias

Neg­a­tiv­ity bias is when our minds re­act more strongly to neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences rather than pos­i­tive ones. It makes us more likely to turn down op­por­tu­ni­ties be­cause we can see the threats within the choice rather than the ad­van­tages.

Re­straint bias

We over­es­ti­mate our abil­ity to re­sist temp­ta­tion. This means we think we won’t eat a slice of cake at a party when we’re try­ing to eat healthily, but many of us will have over­es­ti­mated our own willpower.

Galatea ef­fect

This de­scribes the power of self-ex­pec­ta­tion. If you be­lieve you will suc­ceed you are more likely to be suc­cess­ful, com­pared to if you be­lieve you can’t do some­thing.

Pro­cras­ti­na­tion bias

We tend to ac­cept short-term re­ward rather than wait for a bet­ter re­ward. We know our course­work will be more worth it in the long run, but we are still tempted by the funny cat videos.

Re­ac­tance bias

If we are for­bid­den to do some­thing, we may have the de­sire to do that ex­act thing in or­der to prove our free­dom of choice, like be­ing asked not to walk on the grass or touch a piece of art.

Our brains all func­tion dif­fer­ently, mean­ing peo­ple lean more into some bi­ases than oth­ers

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