Cognitive Biases by Category

11 Biases that affect the way we comprehend large amounts of information

We reduce events to their key elements It’s difficult to reduce events and lists to generalities, so instead we pick out a few items to represent the whole. Suffix Effect The selective impairment in r…

12 Biases which lead us to fill in the blanks from our past experiences

We fill in characteristics from stereotypes, generalities, and prior histories. When we have partial information about a specific thing that belongs to a group of things we are pretty familiar with, o…

14 Biases that help us to get things done

To get things done, we tend to complete things we’ve time & energy in The behavioral economist’s version of Newton’s first law of motion: an object in motion stays in motion. This helps us finish …

14 Biases which cause us to project our current mindset into the past and future

We project our current mindset and assumptions onto the past and future. Magnified also by the fact that we’re not very good at imagining how quickly or slowly things will happen or change over time. …

14 Biases which lead us to make stories when we look at sparse data

We tend to find stories and data when looking at sparse data. Since we only get a tiny sliver of the world’s information, and also filter out almost everything else, we never have the luxury of having…

19 Biases that lead us to act with confidence

To act, we must be confident we can make an impact and feel what we do is important In reality, most of this confidence can be classified as overconfidence, but without it we might not act at all. Act…

3 Biases that help us stay focused by valuing the immediate and relatable

To stay focused, we favor the immediate, relatable thing in front of us We value stuff more in the present than in the future, and relate more to stories of specific individuals than anonymous individ…

5 Biases that affect the way we perceive groups

We discard specifics to form generalities We do this out of necessity, but the impact of implicit associations, stereotypes, and prejudice results in some of the most glaringly bad consequences from o…

6 Biases that help us avoid mistakes by preserving the status quo

To avoid mistakes, we aim to preserve autonomy and group status and avoid irreversible decisions If we must choose, we tend to choose the option that is perceived as the least risky or that preserves …

6 Biases that make us think we know what other people are thinking

We think we know what other people are thinking In some cases this means that we assume that they know what we know, in other cases we assume they’re thinking about us as much as we are thinking about…

7 Biases that affect our memory storing capabilities

We store memories differently based on how they were experienced Our brains will only encode information that it deems important at the time, but this decision can be affected by other circumstances (…

7 Biases that change our memories

We edit and reinforce some memories after the fact During that process, memories can become stronger, however various details can also get accidentally swapped. We sometimes accidentally inject a deta…

9 Biases that lead us to make wrong perceptions of people and things

We imagine things and people we’re familiar with or fond of as better Similar to the above but the filled-in bits generally also include built in assumptions about the quality and value of the thing w…

9 Biases which affect our decision making by preferring the simpler option

We favor simple-looking options and complete information over complex, ambiguous options We’d rather do the quick, simple thing than the important complicated thing, even if the important complicated …

9 Biases which help us simplify numbers and probabilities

We simplify probabilities and numbers to make them easier to think about. Our subconscious mind is terrible at math and generally gets all kinds of things wrong about the likelihood of something happe…

Certain things stick out more than others

Bizarre, funny, visually-striking, or anthropomorphic things stick out more than non-bizarre/unfunny things. Our brains tend to boost the importance of things that are unusual or surprising. Alternati…

Need To Act Fast

We’re constrained by time and information, and yet we can’t let that paralyze us. Without the ability to act fast in the face of uncertainty, we surely would have perished as a species long ago. With …

Not Enough Meaning

The world is very confusing, and we end up only seeing a tiny sliver of it, but we need to make some sense of it in order to survive. Once the reduced stream of information comes in, we connect the do…

Too Much Information

There is just too much information in the world, we have no choice but to filter almost all of it out. Our brain uses a few simple tricks to pick out the bits of information that are most likely going…

We are drawn to certain details

We are drawn to details that confirm our own existing beliefs. This is a big one. As is the corollary: we tend to ignore details that contradicts our own beliefs. Confirmation Bias (Confirmatory Bias,…

We notice flaws in others more easily

We notice flaws in others more easily than we notice flaws in ourselves. Yes, before you see this entire article as a list of quirks that compromise how other people think, realize that you are also s…

We notice things repeated often

We notice things already primed in memory or repeated often. This is the simple rule that our brains are more likely to notice things that are related to stuff that’s recently been loaded in memory. A…

We notice when something has changed

And we’ll generally tend to weigh the significance of the new value by the direction the change happened (positive or negative) more than re-evaluating the new value as if it had been presented alone.…

What Should We Remember?

There’s too much information in the universe. We can only afford to keep around the bits that are most likely to prove useful in the future. We need to make constant bets and trade-offs around what we…