30 cognitive biases you fall for in politics

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Don't be a squirrel. Copy the 30 biases and look at them before your next important decision


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Now, let's jump into it...


You've heard that storytelling is powerful.

It's so powerful that it can be misleading. Our brains love stories, because they paint a picture in our minds and they simplify complex information. We believe a story that "makes sense", even if inaccurate or misleading.

It's a cognitive bias called the 'Narrative Fallacy'.

Luckily, you can guard against cognitive biases. It starts with being aware of them.

Unfortunately, our brains have a long list of cognitive biases. Evolution wanted it that way: cognitive biases are shortcuts that help you be efficient and survive. But they get in the way of deliberate decision-making.

And therein lies one answer to the core question of politicwise:

How do we make politics wiser?

Avoid cognitive bias as best as you can.

The Narrative Fallacy is only one of many cognitive biases.

🐿️ I've been collecting cognitive biases like a squirrel collects nuts. I put them in different places and forget about them. 🌰

So, I've now pulled them all together into a list. It can work like a checklist for important decisions. They come in 4 buckets:

  • Information processing biases
  • Social perception biases
  • Self-related biases
  • Decision-making biases

Copy this if you like πŸ‘‡

Information Processing Biases

These biases affect how you search for, interpret, and remember information.

  • Confirmation Bias: tendency to favor information that confirms pre-existing beliefs or hypotheses.
  • Anchoring Bias: relying too heavily on the first piece of information received when making decisions.
  • Availability Heuristic: overestimating the importance of information that comes to mind easily.
  • Negativity Bias: tendency to pay more attention to negative information than positive.
  • Selective Perception: tendency for expectations to affect perception.
  • Framing Effect: influencing decision-making and judgment by how information is presented.
  • Hindsight Bias: inclination to see events that have already occurred as being more predictable than they actually were.
  • Attentional Bias: tendency to focus on certain elements while ignoring others based on their salience or emotional impact.
  • Narrative Fallacy: creating a story or pattern to events to make sense of a series of facts that may not be related.

Social Perception Biases

These biases influence how you perceive and interact with other people, especially in group settings.

  • Ingroup Bias: favoring one’s own group or those perceived to be part of the same group.
  • Outgroup Homogeneity Bias: perceiving members of an outgroup as more similar to each other than they actually are.
  • Fundamental Attribution Error: tendency to attribute others' actions to their character rather than to situational factors.
  • Halo Effect: bias where impressions in one area influence opinion in another area.
  • Authority Bias: tendency to attribute greater accuracy to the opinion of an authority figure and be more influenced by that opinion.
  • Projection Bias: assuming others share the same beliefs or will behave similarly in a certain way.
  • Groupthink: practice of making decisions as a group in a way that discourages individual responsibility or creativity.

Biases that relate to your self-perception, influencing how you look at success and failure.

  • Dunning-Kruger Effect: phenomenon where people with little knowledge overestimate their ability.
  • Self-serving Bias: attributing positive events to one’s own character but attributing negative events to external factors.
  • Overconfidence Bias: tendency to hold a too-favorable view of one’s abilities or opinions.
  • Optimism Bias: bias that causes someone to believe that they themselves are less likely to experience a negative event.
  • Pessimism Bias: expecting the worst, often leading to stress and depression.
  • Escalation of Commitment: Doubling down on a failing course of action to justify investments already made.

Decision-Making Biases

These biases impact how decisions are made, often irrationally deviating from optimal decision-making.

  • Status Quo Bias: preference to keep things the same by sticking with a decision previously made.
  • Bandwagon Effect: tendency to do or believe things because many other people do or believe the same.
  • Backfire Effect: when people react to disconfirming evidence by strengthening their beliefs.
  • False Consensus Effect: overestimating how much others agree with us.
  • Mere Exposure Effect: developing a preference for things merely because they are familiar.
  • Not Invented Here Bias: tendency to avoid using or buying products, research, standards, or knowledge from outside a group.
  • Ambiguity Effect: avoidance of options for which the probability of a favorable outcome is unknown.
  • Zero-risk Bias: preferring to completely eliminate a risk even when alternative options produce a greater reduction in risk overall.

Happy bias-busting!

p.s. my latest book note is on 'Awe' by Dacher Keltner. Please: don't miss the 'Double Rainbow Guy' with 51M views YouTube... the (funny) epitome of what the emotion of awe is all about! πŸ‘‡

Awe - Dacher Keltner
The transformative power of everyday wonder

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