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, our brain has no problem filling in the gaps with best guesses or what other trusted sources provide. Conveniently, we then forget which parts were real and which were filled in.

Argument from Fallacy

Also known as Argument to Logic (Argumentum ad Logicam), The Fallacy Fallacy, The Fallacist’s Fallacy, and The Bad Reasons Fallacy.

The formal fallacy of analyzing an argument and inferring that, since it contains a fallacy, its conclusion must be false.

Authority Bias

The tendency to attribute greater accuracy to the opinion of an authority figure (unrelated to its content) and be more influenced by that opinion. Read More.

Automation Bias

The propensity for humans to favor suggestions from automated decision-making systems and to ignore contradictory information made without automation even if it is correct. Errors of automation bias tend to occur when decision-making involves a degree of dependence on computers or other automated aids and the human element is largely confined to monitoring the tasks underway. Examples of such situations can involve not only such urgent matters as flying on automatic pilot but also such mundane matters as the use of spell-checking programs.

Bandwagon Effect

A phenomenon whereby the rate of uptake of beliefs, ideas, fads, and trends increases the more that they have already been adopted by others. In other words, the bandwagon effect is characterized by the probability of individual adoption increasing with respect to the proportion that have already done so.


The view that all objects have an essential substance that make the thing what it is, and without which it would be not that kind of thing. Controversial. This is a philosophical viewpoint not a cognitive bias.

Functional Fixedness

A cognitive bias that limits a person to using an object only in the way it is traditionally used.

Group Attribution Error

This refers to people’s tendency to believe either (1) that the characteristics of an individual group member are reflective of the group as a whole, or (2) that a group’s decision outcome must reflect the preferences of individual group members, even when information is available suggesting otherwise.

Just-World Hypothesis

The assumption that a person’s actions are inherently inclined to bring morally fair and fitting consequences to that person; to the end of all noble actions being eventually rewarded and all evil actions eventually punished. In other words, the just-world hypothesis is the tendency to attribute consequences to, or expect consequences as the result of, a universal force that restores moral balance.

This amazing illustration of the availability heuristic was made by @cartoonbias. Do check out their work on Instagram.

Moral Credential Effect

A bias that occurs when a person’s track record as a good egalitarian establishes in them an unconscious ethical certification, endorsement, or license that increases the likelihood of less egalitarian decisions later.

Placebo Effect

The psychological phenomenon in which the recipient perceives an improvement in condition due to personal expectations rather than treatment itself.

Stereotyping (Stereotypical Bias)

A stereotype is any thought widely adopted about specific types of individuals or certain ways of behaving intended to represent the entire group of those individuals or behaviors as a whole. These thoughts or beliefs may or may not accurately reflect reality.

Ultimate Attribution Error

The tendency to internally attribute negative outgroup and positive ingroup behaviour and to externally attribute positive outgroup and negative ingroup behaviour. Stated specifically, ultimate attribution error arises as a way to explain an outgroup’s negative behaviour as flaws in their personality, and to explain an outgroup’s positive behaviour as a result of chance or circumstance. It is also the belief that positive acts performed by ingroup members are as a result of their personality, whereas, if an ingroup member behaves negatively (which is believed to be rare), it is a result of situational factors.

Related. Positivity Effect, Fundamental Attribution Error, Actor-Observer Bias

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