Let’s face it, everyone is biased to some degree. It is a human condition. This article provides you a concise list of 11 types of cognitive biases as well as bias with examples and the problems they cause.
Where Does Bias Come From?
Our human brain is the source of bias. To conserve energy, our brain takes short-cuts (heuristics) and forms our ways of thinking and viewpoints resulting in bias. See Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa’s Origins of Bias in the Brain for more information on how our brain works.
11 Cognitive Bias With Examples.
There are a lot of scientific studies that have categorized types of biases. From a cognitive perspective, biases are errors that occur in the way we acquire knowledge and form viewpoints. These flaws in thinking result in biases in our personal beliefs. Below are 11 categories of cognitive biases with examples:
- Confirmation Bias. The tendency to listen more often to information that confirms our existing beliefs (ex. “Echo Chambers“).
- Hindsight Bias. The tendency to see events, even random ones, as more predictable than they are (ex. “I Told You So.”).
- Anchoring Bias. The tendency to be overly influenced by the first piece of information that we hear (ex. first impressions at a job interview).
- Misinformation Bias. The tendency for memories to be heavily influenced by things that happened after the actual event itself (ex. inaccurate witness at a trial).
- Self-Serving Bias. The tendency for people to give themselves credit for successes but lay the blame for failures on outside causes (ex. “I am perfect; It’s all your fault“).
- Available Heuristics Bias. The tendency to estimate the probability of something happening based on how many examples readily come to mind (ex. bad sampling in a science experiment).
- Optimism Bias. The tendency to overestimate the likelihood that good things will happen to us while underestimating the probability that negative events will impact our lives (ex. “It can’t happen to me“).
- The Dunning-Kruger Effect Bias. The tendency for people to perceive a concept or event to be simplistic just because their knowledge about it may be simple or lacking—the less you know about something, the less complicated it may appear. (ex. “everything is black or white, nothing in between”)
- The In-group Bias. The tendency for people to be more likely to support or believe someone within their own social group than an outsider (ex. mob mentality).
- Status Quo Bias. The status quo bias refers to the preference to keep things in their current state, while regarding any type of change as a loss (ex. older person hangs on to their flip phone).
- Narrative Fallacy Bias. The tendency for us to like a good story that we can make sense of and relate to (ex. advertisement / solicitation for money that tells the story about a distressed animal or disadvantaged person).
Examples of Where Bias Causes Problems.
With our biases come problems. Below are some examples where our biases cause problems.
- Writing or Speaking. Our biased way of thinking and viewpoints come out anytime we write or speak. We talk about a “little old lady” (age), “liberal / conservative” (politics), “devout Catholics” (religion), or “confined to a wheelchair” (health and abilities). See ThoughtCo’s What is Biased Language?
- Survey Questions. Most of us are inclined to think of survey polls as factual, but in fact many poll results are skewed due to bias that is phrased or formatted into the questions. Many survey questions consist of leading questions or loaded questions containing preconceived assumptions. See Delighted.com’s Avoiding Biased Questions: 7 Examples of Bad Survey Questions.
- WorkPlace. Especially in service industries, bias affects both employees and patrons of the business. As an example, in the healthcare field bias can have a detrimental effect on the quality of service a patient receives. Countless studies have shown bias in regard to race, gender, sexual identity, age, ableism, obesity, socioeconomic status, education, and geographic location. See Medical News Today’s Biases in Healthcare.
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