Cognitive bias: Wikis

  

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For an article about the conceptual problems of the mind see Cognitive closure (philosophy).

A cognitive bias is the human tendency to draw incorrect conclusions in certain circumstances based on cognitive factors rather than evidence. Such biases are thought to be a form of "cognitive shortcut", often based upon rules of thumb, and include errors in statistical judgment, social attribution, and memory. Cognitive biases are a common outcome of human thought, and often drastically skew the reliability of anecdotal and legal evidence. It is a phenomenon studied in cognitive science and social psychology.

Contents

Overview

Bias arises from various processes that are sometimes difficult to distinguish. These include information-processing shortcuts (heuristics), motivational factors and social influence.[citation needed]

The notion of cognitive biases was introduced by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman in 1972[1] and grew out of their experience of people's innumeracy, or inability to reason intuitively with the greater orders of magnitude. They and their colleagues demonstrated several replicable ways in which human judgments and decisions differ from rational choice theory. They explained these differences in terms of heuristics; rules which are simple for the brain to compute but introduce systematic errors.[1] For instance the availability heuristic, when the ease with which something comes to mind is used to indicate how often (or how recently) it has been encountered.

These experiments grew into the heuristics and biases research program which spread beyond academic psychology into other disciplines including medicine and political science.[2] It was a major factor in the emergence of behavioral economics, earning Kahneman a Nobel Prize in 2002.[citation needed] Tversky and Kahneman developed prospect theory as a more realistic alternative to rational choice theory.[citation needed]

Other biases have been demonstrated in separate experiments, such as the confirmation bias demonstrated by Peter C. Wason.[citation needed]

Types of cognitive biases

Biases can be distinguished on a number of dimensions. For example, there are biases specific to groups (such as the risky shift) as well as biases at the individual level.

Some biases affect decision-making, where the desirability of options has to be considered (e.g., Sunk Cost fallacy). Others such as Illusory correlation affect judgment of how likely something is, or of whether one thing is the cause of another. A distinctive class of biases affect memory,[3] such as consistency bias (remembering one's past attitudes and behaviour as more similar to one's present attitudes).

Some biases reflect a subject's motivation,[4] for example the desire for a positive self-image leading to Egocentric bias[5] and the avoidance of unpleasant cognitive dissonance. Other biases are due to the particular way the brain perceives, forms memories and makes judgments. This distinction is sometimes described as "Hot cognition" versus "Cold Cognition", as motivated cognition can involve a state of arousal.

Among the "cold" biases, some are due to ignoring relevant information (e.g. Neglect of probability), whereas some involve a decision or judgement being affected by irrelevant information (for example the Framing effect where the same problem receives different responses depending on how it is described) or giving excessive weight to an unimportant but salient feature of the problem (e.g., Anchoring).

The fact that some biases reflect motivation, and in particular the motivation to have positive attitudes to oneself[5] accounts for the fact that many biases are self-serving or self-directed (e.g. Illusion of asymmetric insight, Self-serving bias, Projection bias). There are also biases in how subjects evaluate in-groups or out-groups; evaluating in-groups as more diverse and "better" in many respects, even when those groups are arbitrarily-defined (Ingroup bias, Outgroup homogeneity bias).

Some cognitive biases belong to the subgroup of attentional biases which refer to the paying of increased attention to certain stimuli. It has been, for example, shown that people addicted to alcohol and other drugs pay more attention to drug-related stimuli. Common psychological tests to measure those biases are the Stroop Task[6][7] and the Dot Probe Task.

The following is a list of the more commonly studied cognitive biases.

  • Framing by using a too narrow approach and description of the situation or issue.
  • Hindsight bias, sometimes called the "I-knew-it-all-along" effect, is the inclination to see past events as being predictable.
  • Fundamental attribution error is the tendency for people to over-emphasize personality-based explanations for behaviors observed in others while under-emphasizing the role and power of situational influences on the same behavior.
  • Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions; this is related to the concept of cognitive dissonance.
  • Self-serving bias is the tendency to claim more responsibility for successes than failures. It may also manifest itself as a tendency for people to evaluate ambiguous information in a way beneficial to their interests.

Practical significance

Many social institutions rely on individuals to make rational judgments. A fair jury trial, for example, requires that the jury ignore irrelevant features of the case (such as the attractiveness of the defendant), weigh the relevant features appropriately, consider different possibilities open-mindedly and resist fallacies such as appeal to emotion. The various biases demonstrated in these psychological experiments suggest that people will frequently fail to do all these things.[8] However, they fail to do so in systematic, directional ways that are predictable.[9]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Kahneman, Daniel; Shane Frederick (2002). "Representativeness Revisited: Attribute Substitution in Intuitive Judgment". in Thomas Gilovich, Dale Griffin, Daniel Kahneman. Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 51–52. ISBN 9780521796798. 
  2. ^ Gilovich, Thomas; Dale Griffin (2002). "Heuristics and Biases: Then and Now". in Thomas Gilovich, Dale Griffin, Daniel Kahneman. Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–4. ISBN 9780521796798. 
  3. ^ Schacter, D. L. (1999), "The Seven Sins of Memory: Insights From Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience", American Psychologist 54 (3): 182–203 
  4. ^ Kunda, Z. (1990), "The Case for Motivated Reasoning", Psychological Bulletin 108 (3): 480–498 
  5. ^ a b Hoorens, V. (1993), "Self-enhancement and Superiority Biases in Social Comparison", in Stroebe, W. and Hewstone, Miles, European Review of Social Psychology 4, Wiley 
  6. ^ Jensen AR, Rohwer WD (1966). "The Stroop color-word test: a review". Acta psychologica 25 (1): 36–93. PMID 5328883. 
  7. ^ MacLeod CM (March 1991). "Half a century of research on the Stroop effect: an integrative review". Psychological bulletin 109 (2): 163–203. PMID 2034749. http://content.apa.org/journals/bul/109/2/163. 
  8. ^ Sutherland, Stuart (2007) Irrationality: The Enemy Within Second Edition (First Edition 1994) Pinter & Martin. ISBN 978-1-905177-07-3
  9. ^ Ariely, Dan (2008). Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. HarperCollins. pp. 304. ISBN 9780061353239. 

Further reading

  • Eiser, J. R. and Joop van der Pligt (1988) Attitudes and Decisions London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-01112-9
  • Fine, Cordelia (2006) A Mind of its Own: How your brain distorts and deceives Cambridge, UK: Icon Books. ISBN 1-84046-678-2
  • Gilovich, Thomas (1993). How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life. New York: The Free Press. ISBN 0-02-911706-2
  • Haselton, M. G., Nettle, D. & Andrews, P.W. (2005). The evolution of cognitive bias. In D. M. Buss (Ed.), Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology, (pp. 724–746). Hoboken: Wiley. Full text
  • Heuer, Richards J. Jr. (1999) Psychology of Intelligence Analysis. Central Intelligence Agency. http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/psych-intel/art5.html
  • Kahneman D., Slovic P., and Tversky, A. (Eds.) (1982) Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. New York: Cambridge University Press ISBN 978-0-521-28414-1
  • Kida, Thomas (2006) Don't Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking New York: Prometheus. ISBN 978-1-59102-408-8
  • Nisbett, R., and Ross, L. (1980) Human Inference: Strategies and shortcomings of human judgement. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall ISBN 978-0-13-445130-5
  • Piatelli-Palmarini, Massimo (1994) Inevitable Illusions: How Mistakes of Reason Rule Our Minds New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-15962-X
  • Sutherland, Stuart (2007) Irrationality: The Enemy Within Second Edition (First Edition 1994) Pinter & Martin. ISBN 978-1-905177-07-3
  • Tavris, Carol and Elliot Aronson (2007) Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions and Hurtful Acts Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Books. ISBN 978-0-15-101098-1

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