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Decision-making, Belief, and Behavioural biases

Decision-making, Belief, and Behavioural biases

It must be a thing currently, for me to write articles with three parts in the title. The post I wrote last, “Dispelling Myths, Fake News and the role of Critical Thinking” was a post to encourage deeper thought and reflection on what we might see and hear in the news, our social feeds and in the industries we work in. It was a popular read as well with well over 100 reads in the week. 

So three parts in the title = lots to talk about and share? Seemingly it would appear my own bias towards the article means I want to give it an air of importance and use more than one topic in the title to ensure YOU know it’s important or clever or interesting. 

Perhaps you may have decided to read either post or not read either post based purely on the title? Is that some sort of bias at work or is it that you just don’t have an interest in it?

Cognitive bias is a fascinating subject and having seen it and been caught up in it myself recently it’s an area I want to understand more deeply. If nothing more than to help me understand some of my own decision making and beliefs.

There are so many different types of cognitive bias:

  • When you walk in to a room or a meeting or a networking event and *you think* that everyone is looking at what you are wearing or how you’re walking or acting?

This is called the ‘spotlight effect’ - The tendency to overestimate the amount that other people notice your appearance or behaviour.

  • When we joke about people burying their head in the sand to avoid a particular issue or change?

This is called the ‘Ostrich effect’ - Ignoring an obvious (negative) situation.

  • For anyone that likes building or making things – we might put a much larger price on the finished article than what we actually paid for it (or what it’s worth).

Believe it not this is called the ‘IKEA effect’ - The tendency for people to place a disproportionately high value on objects that they partially assembled themselves, such as furniture from IKEA, regardless of the quality of the end result.

Probably the most infamous of cognitive biases is that of 'Stereotyping' - Expecting a member of a group to have certain characteristics without having actual information about that individual.

It's the stereotyping around age groups and new research in the myths of digital natives that fueled last weeks post and I'm keen to understand more around this and to get some input from you. Cognitive bias influences the way we act and the way we make decisions. Thanks to Ady Howes for finding this great article here on the 20 cognitive biases that affect your decisions. It comes with a really useful infographic.

I’d love to know of these 20 which ones you recognise the most?


Having an awareness of the different types of cognitive bias is crucial for us to make better decisions both in our personal lives and equally as important in our professional lives as well. 

So how can cognitive bias influence our thinking in HR and L&D?

How can it influence our decision making – rightly or wrongly?

Think about our bias in an interview situation or delivering training to different groups of people as a couple of examples. Again, I’d be very interested in your thoughts and comments.

For a more comprehensive list of cognitive bias take a look here

I’ll leave you with this fab graphic from ChainSawSuit to ponder on.

Source : http://chainsawsuit.com/comic/archive/2014/09/16/on-research/ 

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  • Interesting read Mike and since reading this last week I've been much more aware of my own biases in decision making. According to the link that you shared, failing to spot your own biases is itself a bias known as blind-spot bias so you've definitely helped me with that one.

    If there is any on the list that I can most relate to is the one called 'Confirmation Bias'. I've been aware of and cautious of this one for many years. In one sense, it can be like the 'rose-tinted glasses' effect for me. I find this can creep up on me, often subconsciously, when I'm looking at solutions for particular problems. Where there is one solution I favour, it's really easy for me to get drawn into the positives of it and be less attentive of the negatives.

    An example of that from this morning when I was watching a video comparing two video editting programes. Whilst they are very similar in their nature, there are pros and cons to each. When listening to information about my less favoured one, I found myself dismissing the upsides and having a 'so what' mentality whilst really taking onboard the downsides. When it came to listening to information about my favourite, I of course did the opposite.

    The critical thinking that you've mentioned I guess relies on a balanced approach being able to consider both the good and the bad in the solutions we evaluate.

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