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 individuals or groups. I’m surprised there aren’t more biases found under this one, considering how much it impacts how we think about the world.

Appeal to Novelty (Argumentum Ad Novitatem)

A fallacy in which one prematurely claims that an idea or proposal is correct or superior, exclusively because it is new and modern.

Hyberbolic Discounting

Given two similar rewards, humans show a preference for one that arrives sooner rather than later. Humans are said to discount the value of the later reward by a factor that increases with the length of the delay. According to hyperbolic discounting, valuations fall relatively rapidly for earlier delay periods (as in, from now to one week) but then fall more slowly for longer delay periods (for instance, more than a week). Read More.

Example. In a study subjects said they would be indifferent between receiving $15 immediately or $30 after 3 months, $60 after 1 year, or $100 after 3 years.

Identifiable Victim Effect

The tendency of individuals to offer greater aid when a specific identifiable person (“victim”) is observed under hardship, as compared to a large vaguely defined group with the same need. The effect is also observed when subjects administer punishment rather than reward. Research has shown that individuals can be more likely to mete out punishment, even at their own expense, when they are punishing specific, identifiable individuals.

Example. “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.” – Joseph Stalin

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