List of Cognitive Biases

What is Action Bias?

A video explaining Action Bias by Rolf Dobelli the author of The Art of Thinking Clearly on the IDFC Mutual Fund Youtube Channel. What is Action Bias? And why watching and waiting is torture In short,…

What is Affect Heuristic?

A video explaining Affect Heuristic by Rolf Dobelli the author of The Art of Thinking Clearly on the IDFC Mutual Fund Youtube Channel. What is Affect Heuristic? And why you are a slave to your emotion…

What is Alternative Blindness?

What is Alternative Blindness? And why it’s never just a two-horse race Alternative Blindness is the tendency to systematically refuse to compare outcomes to the next best alternative. Instead, …

What is Alternative Paths?

What is Alternative Paths? And winning Russian Roulette Alternative paths are all the outcomes that could have happened, but did not. Put simply – success that comes about through risky dealings…

What is Ambiguity Aversion?

What is Ambiguity Aversion? And the difference between risk and uncertainty Ambiguity aversion, or uncertainty aversion, is the tendency to favor the known over the unknown, including known risks over…

What is Anchoring?

What is Anchoring? And why the wheel of fortune makes our heads spin Anchoring is a cognitive bias where an individual depends too heavily on an initial piece of information offered to make subsequent…

What is Association Bias?

What is Association Bias? And why you shouldn’t marvel at your own existence Association Biases skew our thinking in misleading or distorting ways as we connect different words, events, types of…

What is Authority Bias?

What is Authority Bias? And not bowing down to authority Authority bias is the tendency to attribute greater accuracy to the opinion of an authority figure (unrelated to its content) and be more influ…

What is Availability Bias?

What is Availability Bias? And why we prefer a wrong map to no map at all Availability bias is the human tendency to think that examples of things that come readily to mind are more representative tha…

What is Base-Rate Neglect?

What is Base Rate Neglect? And why when you hear hoofbeats, you shouldn’t expect a Zebra Base Rate Fallacy is our tendency to give more weight to the event-specific information than we should, a…

What is Because Justification?

What is ‘Because’ Justification? And making lame excuses Traffic jam on the highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco: surface repairs. I spent thirty minutes slowly battling my way th…

What is Beginner’s Luck?

What is Beginner’s Luck? And why you should be wary when things get off to a great start Earlier, we learned about the association bias – the tendency to see connections where none exist. For …

What is Chauffeur Knowledge?

What is Chauffeur Knowledge? And why you shouldn’t take news anchors seriously After receiving the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1918, Max Planck went on tour across Germany. Wherever he was invite…

What is Cherry-picking?

What is Cherry-Picking? And drawing the bullseye around the arrow On their websites, hotels present themselves in the very best light. They carefully select each photo, and only beautiful, majestic im…

What is Clustering Illusion?

What is Clustering Illusion? And why you see shapes in the clouds Consider the following examples: Example 1 In 1957, Swedish opera singer Friedrich Jorgensen bought a tape player to record his vocals…

What is Cognitive Dissonance?

WHAT IS COGNITIVE DISSONANCE AND SWEET LITTLE LIES What is Cognitive Dissonance? And sweet little lies A fox crept up to a vine. He gazed longingly at the fat, purple, overripe grapes. He placed his f…

What is Coincidence?

What is Coincidence? And the inevitability of unlikely events Consider the following examples: Example 1 At 7.15 pm on 1 March 1950, the fifteen members of the church choir in Beatrice, Nebraska were …

What is Confirmation Bias? (Part 1)

A video explaining Confirmation Bias by Rolf Dobelli the author of The Art of Thinking Clearly on the IDFC Mutual Fund Youtube Channel. What is Confirmation Bias? And why you should beware of the spec…

What is Confirmation Bias? (Part 2)

What is Confirmation Bias? And murdering your darlings In the previous article about Confirmation Bias, we met the father of all fallacies. We are forced to establish beliefs about the world, our live…

What is Conjunction Fallacy?

What is Conjunction Fallacy? And the deception of specific cases Chris is 35. He studied social philosophy and has had an interest in developing countries since he was a teenager. After graduation, he…

What is Contagion Bias?

What is Contagion Bias? And would you wear Hitler’s Sweater Following the collapse of the Carolingian Empire in the ninth century, Europe, especially France, descended into anarchy. Counts, comm…

What is Contrast Effect?

What is Contrast Effect? And why you should leave your super model friends at home In his book Influence, Robert Cialdini tells the story of two brothers, Sid and Harry, who ran a clothing store in 19…

What is Decision Fatigue?

What is Decision Fatigue? And how to decide better by deciding less For weeks, you’ve been working to the point of exhaustion on this presentation. The PowerPoint slides are polished. Each figure in…

What is Default Effect?

A video explaining Default Effect by Rolf Dobelli the author of The Art of Thinking Clearly on the IDFC Mutual Fund Youtube Channel. What is Default Effect? And why you go with the status quo In a res…

What is Déformation Professionnelle?

What is Deformation Professionnelle? And why those wielding hammers see only nails A man takes out a loan, starts a company, and goes bankrupt shortly afterward. He falls into a depression and commits…

What is Domain Dependence?

What is Domain Dependence? And why knowledge is non-transferable Writing books about clear thinking brings with it many pluses. Business leaders and investors invite me to give talks for good money. (…

What is Effort Justification?

What is effort justification? And why it hurts so good Consider the following examples: Example 1 John, a soldier in the U.S. Army, has just completed his paratrooper course. He waits patiently in lin…

What is Endowment Effect?

A video explaining Endowment Effect by Rolf Dobelli the author of The Art of Thinking Clearly on the IDFC Mutual Fund Youtube Channel. What is the Endowment Effect? And why you shouldn’t cling t…

What is Envy?

What is Envy? And why you should build your own castle Three scenarios – which would irk you the most?  A) Your friends’ salaries increase. Yours stays the same.  B) Their salaries stay the same…

What is Expectations?

What is Expectations? And why you should handle with care Consider the following example On 31 January 2006, Google announced its financial results for the final quarter of 2005. Revenue: up 97%. Net …

What is Exponential Growth?

A video explaining Exponential Growth by Rolf Dobelli the author of The Art of Thinking Clearly on the IDFC Mutual Fund Youtube Channel. What is Exponential Growth? And being stumped by a sheet of pap…

What is Fallacy of the Single Cause?

What is Fallacy of the Single Cause? And the stone-age hunt for scapegoats Consider the following example: Chris Matthews is one of MSNBC’s top journalists. In his news show, so-called political exp…

What is False Causality?

What is False Causality? And you shouldn’t nelieve in the stork For the inhabitants of the Hebrides, a chain of islands north of Scotland, head lice were a part of life. If the lice left their h…

What is False-Consensus Effect?

What is False-Consensus Effect? And the myth of Like-Mindedness Which do you prefer: music from the 1960s or music from the 1980s? How do you think the general public would answer this question? Most …

What is Falsification of History?

What is Falsification of History? Any why you were right all along Winston Smith, a frail, brooding, 39-year-old office employee, works in the Ministry of Truth. His job is to update old newspaper art…

What is Fear of Regret?

What is Fear of Regret? And why ‘last chances’ make us panic Consider the following two stories: First Story Paul owns shares in company A. During the year, he considered selling them and …

What is Feature-Positive Effect?

What is Feature-Positive Effect? And why checklists deceive you Two series of numbers: The first, series A, consists of: 724, 947, 421, 843, 394, 411, 054, 646. What do these numbers have in common? D…

What is Forecast Illusion?

What is Forecast Illusion? And False Prophets ‘Facebook to be number one entertainment platform in three years.’ ‘Regime shift in North Korea in two years.’ ‘Sour grapes for France as Argent…

What is Forer Effect?

What is Forer Effect? And how to expose a charlatan Dear reader, it may surprise you, but I know you personally. This is how I would sum you up: ‘You have a great need for other people to like and a…

What is Framing?

What is Framing? And why it’s not what you say but how you say it Consider these two statements: 1 – ‘Hey, the trashcan is full!’ 2 – ‘It would be really great if you could emp…

What is Fundamental Attribution Error?

What is Fundamental Attribution Error? And why you should never ask a writer if the novel is autobiographical Opening the newspaper, you learn that another CEO has been forced to step down because of …

What is Gambler’s Fallacy?

What is Gambler’s Fallacy? Any why the ‘balancing force of the universe’ is baloney Consider the following: One In the summer of 1913, something incredible happened in Monte Carlo. C…

What is Groupthink?

What is Groupthink? And the calamity of conformity Have you ever bitten your tongue in a meeting? Surely. You sit there, say nothing and nod along to proposals. After all, you don’t want to be the (…

What is Halo Effect?

What is Halo Effect? And why everyone is beautiful at the top Cisco, the Silicon Valley firm, was once a darling of the new economy. Business journalists gushed about its success in every discipline: …

What is Hedonic Treadmill?

What is Hedonic Treadmill? And why you should be careful what you wish for Consider the following: One Suppose one day, the phone rings. An excited voice tells you that you have just scooped the lotte…

What is Hindsight Bias?

What is Hindsight Bias? And why you should keep a diary I came across the diaries of my great-uncle recently. In 1932, he emigrated from a tiny Swiss village to Paris to seek his fortune in the movie …

What is House-Money Effect?

What is House-Money Effect? And why money is not naked A windy fall day in the early 1980s. The wet leaves swirled about the sidewalk. Pushing my bike up the hill to school, I noticed a strange leaf a…

What is Hyperbolic Discounting?

WHAT IS HYPERBOLIC DISCOUNTING AND WHY YOU SHOULD LIVE EACH DAY AS IF IT WERE YOUR LAST – BUT ONLY ON SUNDAYS   You know the saying: ‘Live each day as if it were your last.’ It features at lea…

What is Illusion of Attention?

WHAT IS ILLUSION OF ATTENTION AND WHY YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE OVERLOOKING  After heavy rains in the south of England, a river in a small village overflowed its banks. The police closed the ford…

What is Illusion of Control?

WHAT IS ILLUSION OF CONTROL AND WHY YOU CONTROL LESS THAN YOU THINK Every day, shortly before nine o’clock, a man with a red hat stands in a square and begins to wave his cap around wildly. After fi…

What is Illusion of Skill?

WHAT IS ILLUSION OF SKILL AND WHY THE BOAT MATTERS MORE THAN THE ROWING  Why are there so few serial entrepreneurs – business people who start successful companies one after the other? Of course, t…

What is In-Group Out-Group Bias?

WHAT IS IN-GROUP OUT-GROUP BIAS AND WHY YOU IDENTIFY WITH YOUR FOOTBALL TEAM  When I was a child, a typical wintry Sunday looked like this: my family sat in front of the TV watching a ski race. My pa…

What is Inability to Close Doors?

WHAT IS INABILITY TO CLOSE DOORS AND WHY YOU SHOULD SET FIRE TO YOUR SHIPS  Next to my bed, two dozen books are stacked high. I have dipped in and out of all of them, but am unable to part with even …

What is Incentive Super-Response Tendency?

WHAT IS INCENTIVE SUPER-RESPONSE TENDENCY AND WHY SHOULD NEVER PAY YOUR LAWYER BY THE HOUR To control a rat infestation, French colonial rulers in Hanoi in the nineteenth century passed a law: for eve…

What is Induction?

A video explaining Induction Bias by Rolf Dobelli the author of The Art of Thinking Clearly on the IDFC Mutual Fund Youtube Channel. WHAT IS INDUCTION BIAS AND HOW TO RELIEVE PEOPLE OF THEIR MILLIONS …

What is Information Bias?

A video explaining Information Bias by Rolf Dobelli the author of The Art of Thinking Clearly on the IDFC Mutual Fund Youtube Channel. WHAT IS INFORMATION BIAS AND WHY IF YOU HAVE AN ENEMY, YOU SHOULD…

What is Intention-To-Treat Error?

WHAT IS INTENTION-TO-TREAT ERROR AND HOW SPEED DEMONS MAKE SAFE DRIVERS  You’ll find it hard to believe, but speed demons drive more safely than so-called ‘careful’ drivers. Why? Well, consider…

What is Introspection Illusion?

WHAT IS INTROSPECTION ILLUSION AND WHY YOU SHOULD BE YOUR OWN HERETIC  Bruce is in the vitamin business. His father founded the company when supplements were not yet a lifestyle product; a doctor had…

What is It’ll-Get-Worse-Before-It-Gets-Better Fallacy?

WHAT IS THE IT’LL-GET-WORSE-BEFORE-IT-GETS-BETTER FALLACY AND WHY ‘NO PAIN, NO GAIN’ SHOULD SET ALARM BELLS RINGING A few years ago, I was on vacation in Corsica and fell sick. The symptoms were…

What is Law of Small Numbers?

WHAT IS THE LAW OF SMALL NUMBERS AND WHY SMALL THINGS LOOM LARGE  You sit on the corporate board of a retail company with 1,000 stores. Half of the stores are in cities, the other half in rural areas…

What is Liking Bias?

WHAT IS LIKING BIAS AND WHY IF YOU LIKE ME, YOU REALLY REALLY LIKE ME Kevin has just bought two boxes of fine Margaux. He rarely drinks wine – not even Bordeaux – but the sales assistant was so ni…

What is Loss Aversion?

A video explaining Loss Aversion Bias by Rolf Dobelli the author of The Art of Thinking Clearly on the IDFC Mutual Fund Youtube Channel. WHAT IS LOSS AVERSION AND WHY EVIL STRIKES HARDER THAN GOOD On …

What is Motivation Crowding?

WHAT IS MOTIVATION CROWDING AND HOW BONUSES DESTROY MOTIVATION  A few months ago, a friend from Connecticut decided to move to New York City. This man had a fabulous collection of antiques, such as e…

What is Neglect of Probability?

A video explaining Neglect of Probability Bias by Rolf Dobelli the author of The Art of Thinking Clearly on the IDFC Mutual Fund Youtube Channel. WHAT IS NEGLECT OF PROBABILITY AND WHY YOU’LL SOON B…

What is Neomania?

WHAT IS NEOMANIA AND WHY YOU SHOULD DISREGARD THE BRAND NEW  How will the world look in fifty years? What will your everyday life be like? With which items will you surround yourself?  People who po…

What is News Illusion?

WHAT IS NEWS ILLUSION AND WHY YOU SHOULDN’T READ THE NEWS  ‘Earthquake in Sumatra.’  ‘Plane crash in Russia.’  ‘Man holds daughter captive in cellar for thirty years.’  ‘Heidi Klum…

What is Not-Invented-Here Syndrome?

WHAT IS NOT-INVENTED-HERE SYNDROME AND WHY YOU CAN’T BEAT HOME-MADE  My cooking skills are quite modest, and my wife knows it. However, every now and then I concoct a dish that could pass for edibl…

What is Omission Bias?

WHAT IS OMISSION BIAS AND WHY YOU ARE EITHER THE SOLUTION – OR THE PROBLEM   You are on a glacier with two climbers. The first slips and falls into a crevasse. He might survive if you call for help…

What is Outcome Bias?

A video explaining Outcome Bias by Rolf Dobelli the author of The Art of Thinking Clearly on the IDFC Mutual Fund Youtube Channel. WHAT IS OUTCOME BIAS AND WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER JUDGE A DECISION BY ITS…

What is Overconfidence Effect?

A video explaining Overconfidence Effect by Rolf Dobelli the author of The Art of Thinking Clearly on the IDFC Mutual Fund Youtube Channel. WHAT IS OVERCONFIDENCE EFFECT AND WHY YOU SYSTEMATICALLY OVE…

What is Overthinking?

WHAT IS OVERTHINKING AND WHERE’S THE OFF SWITCH?  There was once an intelligent centipede. Sitting on the edge of a table, he looked over and saw a tasty grain of sugar across the room. Clever as h…

What is Paradox of Choice?

WHAT IS THE PARADOX OF CHOICE AND HOW LESS IS MORE My sister and her husband bought an unfinished house a little while ago. Since then, we haven’t been able to talk about anything else. The sole top…

What is Personification?

WHAT IS PERSONIFICATION AND WHY YOU PREFER NOVELS TO STATISTICS For eighteen years, the American media was prohibited from showing photographs of fallen soldiers’ coffins. In February 2009, defence …

What is Planning Fallacy?

WHAT IS PLANNING FALLACY AND WHY YOU TAKE ON TOO MUCH Every morning, you compile a to-do list. How often does it happen that everything is checked off by the end of the day? Always? Every other day? M…

What is Primacy and Recency Effects?

WHAT IS PRIMACY AND RECENCY EFFECTS AND WHY FIRST IMPRESSIONS DECEIVE  Allow me to introduce you to two men, Alan and Ben. Without thinking about it too long, decide who you prefer. Alan is smart, ha…

What is Problem with Averages?

A video explaining Problem with Averages Bias by Rolf Dobelli the author of The Art of Thinking Clearly on the IDFC Mutual Fund Youtube Channel. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH AVERAGES AND WHY THERE IS NO S…

What is Procrastination?

WHAT IS PROCRASTINATION AND WHY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS DON’T WORK  A friend, a writer, someone who knows how to capture emotion in sentences – let’s call him an artist – writes modest books…

What is Reciprocity Bias?

WHAT IS RECIPROCITY BIAS AND WHY YOU SHOULDN’T ACCEPT FREE DRINKS Not so long ago, you may have come across disciples of the Hare Krishna sect floating around in saffron-coloured robes as you hurry …

What is Regression to Mean?

A video explaining Regression to Mean by Rolf Dobelli the author of The Art of Thinking Clearly on the IDFC Mutual Fund Youtube Channel. WHAT IS REGRESSION TO MEAN AND THE DUBIOUS EFFICACY OF DOCTORS,…

What is Salience Effect?

What is Salience Effect? And how eye-catching details render us blind The salience bias describes our tendency to focus on items or information that are more noteworthy while ignoring those that do no…

What is Scarcity Error?

WHAT IS NEGLECT OF PROBABILITY AND WHY THE LAST COOKIE IN THE JAR MAKES YOUR MOUTH WATER Coffee at a friend’s house. We sat trying to make conversation while her three children grappled with one ano…

What is Self-Selection Bias?

WHAT IS SELF-SELECTION BIAS AND WHY YOU SHOULDN’T MARVEL AT YOUR EXISTENCE Travelling from Philadelphia up to New York, I got stuck in a traffic jam. ‘Why is it always me?’ I groaned. Glancing t…

What is Self-Serving Bias?

A video explaining Self-Serving Bias by Rolf Dobelli the author of The Art of Thinking Clearly on the IDFC Mutual Fund Youtube Channel. WHAT IS SELF-SERVING BIAS AND WHY YOU SHOULDN’T BLAME Do you e…

What is Simple Logic?

WHAT IS SIMPLE LOGIC AND BEWARE OF SPEED TRAPS AHEAD!  Three easy questions. Grab a pen quickly and jot down your answers in the margin. First question: in a department store, a ping-pong paddle and …

What is Sleeper Effect?

WHAT IS SLEEPER EFFECT AND WHY PROPAGANDA WORKS  During World War II, every nation produced propaganda movies. These were devised to fill the population, especially soldiers, with enthusiasm for thei…

What is Social Comparison Bias?

WHAT IS SOCIAL COMPARISON BIAS AND WHY WE TAKE AIM AT YOUNG GUNS As one of my books reached number one on the bestseller list, my publisher asked me for a favour. An acquaintance’s title was on the …

What is Social Loafing?

WHAT IS SOCIAL LOAFING AND WHY TEAMS ARE LAZY   In 1913 Maximilian Ringelmann, a French engineer, studied the performance of horses. He concluded that the power of two animals pulling a coach did…

What is Social Proof?

A video explaining Social Proof by Rolf Dobelli the author of The Art of Thinking Clearly on the IDFC Mutual Fund Youtube Channel. WHAT IS SOCIAL PROOF AND IF 50 MILLION PEOPLE SAYING SOMETHING FOOLIS…

What is Story Bias?

WHAT IS STORY BIAS AND WHY EVEN TRUE STORIES ARE FAIRY TALES Life is a muddle, as intricate as a Gordian knot. Imagine that an invisible Martian decides to follow you around with an equally invisible …

What is Strategic Misrepresentation?

WHAT IS STRATEGIC MISREPRESENTATION AND HOT AIR  Suppose you apply for your dream job. You buff your resumé to a shine. In the job interview, you highlight your achievements and abilities and gloss …

What is Sunk Cost Fallacy?

WHAT IS SUNK COST FALLACY AND WHY YOU SHOULD FORGET THE PAST The film was dire. After an hour, I whispered to my wife: ‘Come on, let’s go home.’ She replied: ‘No way. We’re not throwing away…

What is Survivorship Bias?

WHAT IS SURVIVORSHIP BIAS AND WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT CEMETERIES No matter where Rick looks, he sees rock stars. They appear on television, on the front pages of magazines, in concert programmes and at o…

What is Swimmer’s Body Illusion?

WHAT IS SWIMMER’S BODY ILLUSION AND DOES HARVARD MAKE YOU SMARTER? As essayist and trader Nassim Taleb resolved to do something about the stubborn extra pounds he’d be carrying, he contemplated ta…

What is The Black Swan?

WHAT IS THE BLACK SWAN AND HOW TO PROFIT FROM THE IMPLAUSIBLE  ‘All swans are white.’ For centuries, this statement was watertight. Every snowy specimen corroborated this. A swan in a different c…

What is Twaddle Tendency?

WHAT IS TWADDLE TENDENCY AND IF YOU HAVE NOTHING TO SAY, SAY NOTHING  When asked why a fifth of Americans were unable to locate their country on a world map, Miss Teen South Carolina, a high-school g…

What is Volunteer’s Folly?

WHAT IS VOLUNTEER’S FOLLY AND WHY VOLUNTEER WORK IS FOR THE BIRDS  Jack, a photographer, is on the go from Monday to Friday. Commissioned by fashion magazines, he divides his time between Milan, Pa…

What is Will Rogers Phenomenon?

WHAT IS WILL ROGERS PHENOMENON AND HOW TO INCREASE THE AVERAGE IQ OF TWO STATES Let’s say you run a small private bank. The bank manages the money of wealthy and mostly retired individuals. Two mone…

What is Winner’s Curse?

WHAT IS WINNER’S CURSE AND WHY YOU SHOULD CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM Texas in the 1950s. A piece of land is being auctioned. Ten oil companies are vying for it. Each has made an estimate of how much the s…

What is Zeigarnik Effect?

WHAT IS ZEIGARNIK EFFECT AND ACCOMPLISHING YOUR MISSIONS Berlin, 1927: a group of university students and professors visit a restaurant. The waiter takes order upon order, including special requests, …