Theresa is 31, single, outspoken and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice. She also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations.
Which is more likely? Theresa is…
A. A bank teller
B. A bank teller active in
the feminist movement.
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The conjunction fallacy
The conjunction fallacy occurs when we assume that specific conditions are more probable than a single general one. Academicians Rajeev Gowda and Jeffrey C. Fox explained how many people choose answer two, although the probability of two events occurring together is always smaller than either one occurring alone. Psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman argued that we make this error because the second answer seems more ‘representative’ of Theresa, although it is less likely.
The American Civil War took place from 1861 to 1865.
What year did Congress hold its first session in the Capitol?
The first session of Congress in the Capitol happened in 1800, and that fact is totally unrelated to the Civil War. Anchoring bias happens because, in our decision-making, we rely too heavily on the first piece of information that is given to us, even if it is not related to the same issue.
All cherry trees are plants. Some plants fade quickly. Therefore, some cherry trees fade quickly.
Is the last sentence TRUE or FALSE?
Cognitive ease: Illusory truth effect
Cognitive ease makes us feel more favorable toward things that are familiar and easy to understand. Our brain is wired to accept what is familiar. That can make us resistant to new assessments, even when presented with reliable facts. The illusory truth effect is a consequence of this cognitive bias. It is the tendency to believe information because it is repeated often. Our minds need to make quick judgments, so we take shortcuts. Relying on how often you’ve heard something to judge the truth of something is just one strategy.
Tina: Intelligent – industrious – impulsive – critical – stubborn – envious
Telma: Envious – stubborn – critical – impulsive – industrious – intelligent
Which one do you see more favorably?
Both descriptions are the exact same words in a different order. The halo effect relies on the weight of the first impression. It is also the phenomenon whereby we assume that because people are good at doing A, they will be good at doing B, C and D, whatever B, C or D is. This is why many people believe that beautiful people are better at their jobs.
Hector thought of a rule for a sequence of three numbers.
The numbers are 3, 9 and 81.
Try to guess the rule by proposing three sequences of the three numbers. We’ll tell you if your sequences follow the same rule.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to look for and favor information that confirms our beliefs. In this example, you may have been biased toward believing that the question was hard, thereby overcomplicating your answer.
These are just five of the multiple cognitive biases we experience daily.
Tversky and Kahneman introduced these concepts in 1972, proving that we are not completely rational individuals. Cognitive biases lead to a distorted perception of reality, causing us to make judgments inaccurately, make illogical interpretations and come to irrational conclusions. These same biases allow us to make optimal and quick decisions in everyday tasks.
Politicians and marketing professionals understand and utilize these biases in their daily work. Being aware that these biases exist can help us be smarter and more critical of our initial reactions.
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