Saturday, 11 October 2008


Before mentioning cognitive biases below, here are a couple of concepts generally used in connection with individuals but which could perhaps be applied to groups also, explaining some anomalies in how they function:
Egodystonic is a psychological term referring to behaviors, (e.g., dreams, impulses, compulsions, desires, etc.), that are in conflict, or dissonant, with the needs and goals of the ego, or, further, in conflict with a person's ideal self-image.
The concept is studied in detail in abnormal psychology, and is the opposite of egosyntonic. Obsessive compulsive disorder is considered to be an ego-dystonic disorder, as the thoughts and compulsions experienced or expressed are often not consistent with the individual's self-perception, causing extreme distress.
Egosyntonic is a medical term referring to behaviors, values, feelings, which are in harmony with or acceptable to the needs and goals of the ego, or consistent with one's ideal self-image. It is studied in detail in abnormal psychology. Many personality disorders are considered egosyntonic and are therefore nearly impossible to treat. Anorexia Nervosa, a hard-to-treat Type I disorder, is also considered egosyntonic because many of its sufferers deny that they have a problem. It is the opposite of egodystonic. Obsessive compulsive disorder is considered to be an egodystonic disorder, as the thoughts and compulsions experienced or expressed are not consistent with the individual's self-perception.
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Cognitive Bias

From Wikipedia as at 12th October 2008

A cognitive bias is a person's tendency to make errors in judgment based on cognitive factors, and is a phenomenon studied in cognitive science and social psychology. Forms of cognitive bias include errors in statistical judgment, social attribution, and memory that are common to all human beings. Such biases drastically skew the reliability of anecdotal and legal evidence. These are thought to be based upon heuristics, or rules of thumb, which people employ out of habit or evolutionary necessity.

* 1 Overview
* 2 Types of cognitive biases
* 3 Practical Significance
* 4 See also
* 5 References
* 6 Further reading
* 7 External links


Bias arises from various life, loyalty and local risk and attention concerns that are difficult to separate or codify. Much of the present scientific understanding of biases stems from the work of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman and their colleagues,[citation needed] whose experiments demonstrated distinct and replicable ways in which human judgment and decision-making differ from rational choice theory. This led to Tversky and Kahneman developing prospect theory as an alternative.[citation needed] Tversky and Kahneman claim that the biases they identified are at least partially the result of problem-solving using mental short-cuts or "heuristics", for instance using how readily or vividly something comes to mind as an indication of how often or how recently it was encountered (the availability heuristic). Other biases have been demonstrated in separate experiments, such as the confirmation bias demonstrated by Peter C. Wason.

Not all of 'biases' are necessarily errors. David Funder and Joachim Krueger have argued that some so called 'biases' may in fact be 'approximation shortcuts', which aid humans in making predictions when information is in short supply.[citation needed] For example, the false consensus effect may be viewed as a reasonable estimation based on a single known data point, your own opinion, instead of a false belief that other people agree with you.

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,[1] 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, [2] for example the desire for a positive self-image leading to Egocentric bias[3] 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 exact 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[3] 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).

The following is a list of the more commonly studied cognitive biases.
For other noted biases, see list of cognitive biases (link at end of this piece)

* Anchoring on a past reference.
* 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.

A fuller list of cognitive biases including social or attributional biases appears at

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