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Cognitive Biases: Why We Make Irrational

Decisions
Explore some classic biases in everyday thinkingand how to avoid
them.
Over the decades psychologists have discovered all kinds of biases in how we think.

Some tell us why the incompetent dont know theyre incompetent, others why its difficult to
estimate our future emotions and some why we feel more transparent to others than we really
appear.

Many of these biases result from our minds using little short-cuts to help us navigate through
a complicated world. Unfortunately the result can be that we reach irrational decisions.

Understanding how these biases operate may help you make better decisions in all sorts of
situations, both at home and work. More than that, though, it will help you understand your
own mind.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect: Why The Incompetent Dont Know Theyre


Incompetent The Dunning-Kruger effect is the finding that the poorest performers
are the least aware of their own incompetence.

The Worse-Than-Average Effect: When Youre Better Than You Think People
underestimate their ability at stereotypically difficult tasks like playing chess, telling
jokes, juggling or computer programming.

Why Youre a Sucker for the Impact Bias Why we are often poor at predicting
how future events will affect us emotionally.

The Hindsight Bias: I Knew It All Along! How to correct for a bias that stops us
learning from our mistakes.

How to Overcome the Egocentric Bias Perspective-taking offers a way around the
egocentric bias.

See How Easily You Can Avoid The Memory Bias The type of memories we
retrieve to make decisions are often biased to unusual examples that are either very
positive or very negative.

Why Your Future Self is an Emotional Mystery: The Projection Bias People
directly project their current emotional state into the future, forgetting their current
feelings will likely change.
How To Avoid Choosing the Wrong Job or House: Fight the Distinction Bias
There are reliable biases in the way we make comparisons that mean we dont always
choose what maximises our future happiness.

4 Belief Biases That Can Reduce Pleasure How beliefs can bias our decisions.

Does Delaying Decisions Lead to Better Outcomes? Decision-makers move away


from the default after a delay.

The Belief in a Just World: A Fundamental Delusion Does what goes around
come around? Do you get whats coming to you? Do you reap what you sow?

Why Society Doesnt Change: The System Justification Bias Have you ever
wondered why society hardly ever changes?

The Availability Bias: Why People Buy Lottery Tickets Shark attacks, murders
and lottery wins: vivid events are more likely to affect judgement.

The Illusion of Transparency Other people cant read your mental state as well as
you think.

The Illusion of Control: Are There Benefits to Being Self-Deluded? Do people


always overestimate how much they control their lives?

The Endowment Effect: Why Its Easy to Overvalue Your Stuff A strange thing
happens in the mind when you buy something.

Illusory Correlations: When The Mind Makes Connections That Dont Exist
Why do CEOs who excel at golf get paid more, despite poorer stock market
performance?

The Anchoring Effect: How The Mind is Biased by First Impressions A


psychological bias that illuminates how we negotiate, predict our emotions, agree a
price and much more

The Confirmation Bias: Why Its Hard to Change Your Mind People search for
information that confirms their view of the world and ignore what doesnt fit.

The Well-Travelled Road Effect: Why Familiar Routes Fly By What a simple
cognitive bias teaches about how to live our lives.

The Sobering Up Effect: Why People Get More Pessimistic As The Moment of
Truth Gets Closer When the chips are about to fall, mentally we brace ourselves.