A Concise Introduction To Heuristics and Biases

When we humans use abstract reasoning to determine the solution to a given problem, say, opening a door that is stuck for some unknown reason, we are not reasoning using the real door. Our brains don’t have enough memory to fit the precise physical description of a real door. Instead, we use representations, which are often trillions or quadrillions of times simpler than their physical counterparts. But they work, at least well enough to solve simple problems. Once you have a mental representation of a door, you can start reasoning about which classes of object or event have the potential to make one stuck or unstuck, for example.

Human brains use a strict set of compression schemes for abstracting critical features of incoming sensory data. These compression schemes are not perfect, and often make errors – as we can see in studies of optical illusions. Many of these errors are invisible to introspection, as they are swept under the rug by higher levels of cognition.

Read more at Accelerating Future.

Bias Description
above-average effect the widespread tendency to categorize oneself as “above average”.
accountability bias the tendency to form thoughts based on considerations of accountability to others.
affect heuristic hastily judging objects or people by an immediate feeling of “goodness” or “badness”.
anchoring/adjustment failure to adjust sufficiently from initial anchors, even when the anchors are arbitary.
anthropomorphism tendency to ascribe human motives or characteristics to nonhuman objects.
availability heuristic salient memories override normative reasoning; most fundamental heuristic of all?
base rate neglect neglect of background frequencies in favor of salient anecdotal evidence.
biased evaluation double-standards in evaluation of evidence, attribution of hostile motives to critics.
Barnum effect tendency of people to accept general descriptions as uniquely relevant to them.
causal schema bias pervasive tendency to categorize salient events based on causal relations.
certainty illusion an overweighted desire for 100% confidence or certainty.
contagion/similarity “once in contact, always in contact”, “stigma”, “karma”, other magical thinking.
confirmation bias the bias to seek out opinions and facts that support our own beliefs and hypotheses.
conjunction effect systematic overestimation of conjunctive probabilities.
durability bias durability bias in affective forecasting.
emotional amplification expect lots of emotion when an salient event’s causes were abnormal or mutable.
egocentric attribution attributing successess to oneself, failures to others (consciously or subconsciously).
false consensus effect inclination to assuming that your beliefs are more widely held than they actually are.
fundamental comp. bias tendency toward automatic contextualization (personalization) of problems.
framing effects disparities in estimates when an identical problem is presented in a different way.
frequency bias weakness with percentages, strength with frequencies.
gambler’s fallacy pervasive false beliefs about the nature of random sequences.
groupthink the pressure to irrationally agree with others in strong team-based cultures.
homogeneity bias exaggerated conclusions about large populations based on small samples.
honoring sunk costs “throwing good money after bad”, pouring resources into failing projects.
isolation effect disregard of components that choice alternatives share, overfocus on differences.
planning fallacy consistent overoptimism regarding completion times for a given project.
reflection effect risk-aversiveness with respect to potential gains, risk-seeking with respect to losses.
representativeness “like goes with like”, the tendency to blindly classify objects based on surface similarity.
selective recall the mostly accidental habit of remembering only facts that reinforce our assumptions.
susceptibility bias optimism in assessments of personal safety and the effectiveness of precautions.
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