10 cognitive biases that manipulate your opinion without you noticing (and how to avoid them)

We make tens of thousands of decisions every day, from which plate to put on the table to what to do with our money or to which party to vote. To prevent others from manipulating our decision making and mastering critical thinking, we must first know the most common cognitive biases.

It is so easy to fall into these biases and prejudices that many will be intuitive and familiar, even if they are advanced concepts of psychology. In Towergate Insurance they have drawn 10 examples of the most common cognitive biases to explain their meaning, from the famous “anchoring effect” of prices to the “heuristic of availability” so present in the information age.

The drag effect

“At a price of only $ 299, the Deluxe Professional stapler is our best-selling model” / Towergate Insurance

Or bandwagon effect . It is when we do or believe in something because the people around us do it. For example, the popularity of a product can make us perceive it as more desirable.

How to avoid it:

Depending less on the opinions of others, weighing all the information that we have available.

The heuristic of availability

“They have to be crazy to swim there”, “Second death by shark in five years” / Towergate Insurance

People overestimate the importance of the information we have available and remember more easily. For example, we might think that smoking is not bad because we know a hundred-year-old smoker.

How to avoid it:

Thinking twice, complementing intuition with statistics.

The Dunning-Kruger effect

“What were you thinking?”, “It seemed like the logical step”, “200m swimming prize” / Towergate Insurance

When an individual with limited ability suffers from a feeling of illusory superiority , believing himself to be more intelligent or capable than others; or on the contrary: a very prepared person who underestimates his abilities.

How to avoid it:

Making fewer decisions based on a self-assessment of our capabilities.

The effect of the frame

“This government has reduced emissions by almost 5%!”, “Emissions have only been reduced by 4.6%” / Towergate Insurance

The same information can lead to different conclusions if presented differently. In politics and the media, slang is used to influence public opinion, which is known as framing .

How to avoid it:

Listening carefully to the information presented to us and trying to discover its true meaning.

The confirmation bias

“AHA! I knew it “,” The Earth is definitely flat “/ Towergate Insurance

It is about seeking and favoring the information that confirms our own beliefs or hypotheses. In topics such as alternative therapies, for example, we listen only to the news that fits our preconceived ideas.

How to avoid it:

Always considering a wide range of opinions, all can have their own advantages and disadvantages.

The curse of knowledge

“It seems that they do not have the lesson”, “Introduction to Goncharov polilogaritmos” / Towergate Insurance

People who excel at something may have trouble putting themselves in the shoes of someone with less knowledge. Once we know something, we find it very difficult to imagine what it was like not to know it .

How to avoid it:

Avoiding assumptions, measuring the knowledge of our audience, providing context with the inclusion of examples.

The reactance

“Do we really want a consultant to tell us what to do?” / Towergate Insurance

When we do the opposite of what they ask or recommend. Reactance occurs if someone pressures us to accept a point of view or an attitude and perceive it as a threat to our freedom of choice.

How to avoid it:

Asking if our objections have to do with our ego.

The fallacy of sunk cost

“Let’s get out of here, it’s the worst movie I’ve seen”, “These tickets cost me an arm and a leg” / Towergate Insurance

We tend to make decisions about something uncertain based on the possible losses it would cause. The fallacy of the sunk cost emerges when we refuse to abandon something unattractive because we have already invested in it.

How to avoid it:

Learning to cut our losses, separating our emotions from our decisions.

The prejudice of hindsight

“Even though we gave him the money, I always had my doubts that Jim could build his own helicopter” / Towergate Insurance

It’s a very intuitive idea: when something happens, we often say “I knew it!” And we modify the memory of our previous opinion. We see it so obvious that we think we have predicted the event before it happens.

How to avoid it:

By asking ourselves how probable it really was that such an event should occur.

The anchoring effect

“Awesome, right? The seller asked for 5,000, but I got it for only 4,500 “/ Towergate Insurance

People give too much importance to the first piece of information we receive, which acts as an anchor . That is why when we manage to negotiate the price of an item we often feel that we are buying a bargain.

How to avoid it:

Studying if an offer is reasonable or we have perceived its value based on the original price.

[ Towergate Insurance ]

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