You might be wondering what exactly are cognitive biases? Well, biases are something we all have – they are systematic errors in our thinking. They are what cause us to think we are better than average, the best looking, and the nicest people around – while everyone isn’t. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common ones that people have.
1. Self-serving bias –
This one is the most classic bias – when you are wrong it’s because of something external, but when you’re right it’s because of your skills and talent. This one bias has caused so many conflicts over the years but it is easily avoidable through introspection and reflection on your actions.
How to avoid: Understand that everything you do, whether good or bad is in your hands.
2. Confirmation cognitive bias –
When you have an idea you believe to be true, for example, political preference and you always seem to see facts that support your belief. This bias will cause you to believe your truth is the only one in the world, and that you are the most objective person in the room. It’s advised you widen your circle to get different perspectives and ideas in life. It will make you a better thinker and a richer person overall.
How to avoid: Open up to different experiences and types of people, read diverse content.
3. Anchoring Bias –
The anchoring bias is a common trap that marketers love. The first price you see for a product will be your anchor for any other price. If you see a watch for 20,000, suddenly a 10,000 watch sounds cheap (relatively). This works with anything else in life as well. If for example, you are surrounded by people who are very nice and charming – an average person will look mean and bad, and the opposite way around.
How to avoid: Always try and compare in many different ways before coming to a conclusion – whether it’s in the money or people’s department.
4. Fundamental attribution error –
Someone else’s mistakes are caused by an inner flaw. Example – “He crashed his car because he is a bad driver” and not because of circumstances.
Most people believe that if they do a mistake – the external causes are the reason, and when someone else does the exact mistake it’s because of internal reasons. This is a very dangerous bias to fall to and may lead to extreme arrogance and judgment.
How to avoid: Realize that just as you sometimes make mistakes others can do too, don’t fall for the trap of knowing it all.
5. Conformism Bias –
Most people are conformists and go by the flow of society, but if you ask people – they will tell you that they view themselves as lone wolves in a crowd of sheep. The thing is that if everyone was a lone wolf we would never form a society and work for a bigger cause of bettering each other’s lives.
How to avoid: Understand that you are part of society and see where conformism is bad and where it’s actually good for you. It’s fine to withdraw from things that don’t bring you value but deleting society has a bigger downside in my opinion.
6. Curse of Knowledge –
Once we know something, we start assuming everyone else knows it as well. The biggest experts and masters fall for this trap.
How to avoid: Understand that even if something is simple for you, it might be a very hard concept for others to grasp.
7. In-Group Favoritism –
People tend to prefer people who are in their group, then out of the group. I think that’s one of the biggest losses for a group. Mixing up and meeting more and more people will make your life more interesting and enjoyable. Don’t live inside your shell.
How to avoid: Remember that there are many amazing people outside your group you can meet and learn from. Go out of your comfort zone to meet them.
8. The Blind Spot Bias
The funniest of the cognitive biases – we don’t think that we have any bias. We see the bias in others, but we don’t see it in ourselves. If you stop and look for a moment you will understand that having biases are part of human nature, and it can’t be denied. You can work to avoid them and learn how to spot them when they arrive.
How to avoid: You are biased, I promise you. Start journaling and notice your thought patterns from time to time, and you will observe moments of bias.
9. Naïve Realism
We believe that our view of reality is objective, and others’ view is irrational and… Biased (you guessed it). The thing I recommend is to try and observe moments in your life where you were biased or found out how wrong you were for holding an opinion. This is a good point to start at.
How to avoid: There are many perspectives to life. Observe rather than judge.
10. Impression Bias –
We think we can learn about a person in our first interaction much more than he can learn about us. We feel as if our depth of character cannot be seen when meeting a person for the first time, but other people are more easily judged by us.
How to avoid: If you feel like you got a good sense of the other person, he probably feels the same.
11. The spotlight effect –
We overestimate the amount of attention people give to us. We think that if we had a failure or did something embarrassing people will remember it forever. It can’t be further from the truth. We are social creatures that most of the time care only about ourselves. The same goes for everyone else so relax – no one is going to remember.
How to avoid: Most people are busy thinking about themselves, don’t worry too much and do your thing.
12. Pessimism\Optimisim Bias –
We tend to overestimate optimistic\Pesimistic events. We think that there is no way our lucky numbers will not win the lottery, or that we are failing the exam because we got a few questions wrong. The truth tends to be somewhere in the middle. It is our tendency to think in absolutes that causes us to behave this way.
How to avoid: Accept that reality can go both ways, practice a good dose of both.
To sum it up
Thanks for reading this post! You now have knowledge over the 12 most common cognitive biases. Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and if you want to learn more about cognitive biases.
I hope it will help you acknowledge your cognitive biases and learn how to eliminate them over time. I believe we all have the power to cut through these biases and it will help us become a better version of ourselves. Here’s the thread version of this article if you want to read it on Twitter.
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As always keep rocking,