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Cognitive Bias – A Knockout Blow to Critical Thinking and Rational Judgments

Cognitive Bias – A Knockout Blow to Critical Thinking and Rational Judgments

Updated on Sep 13, 2022

Reviewed by Dr. Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, MD , Certified Psychiatrist

Cognitive Bias - Meaning, Examples, Signs, Causes, Types & More

Key Takeaways

  • Cognitive bias simply means a systematic alteration or distortion of rational thinking and critical judgments.
  • These are errors in thinking.
  • Cognitive bias is a tendency to rely on information that matches previous ideas and belief systems.
  • It occurs when a person tries to perceive, interpret the information received from the outside environment.
  • Cognitive biases can make someone create a subjective reality.
  • The subjective reality that the person creates doesn’t match with the real information.
  • These are unconscious shortcuts and straight-away exits that our mind resorts to while information processing.

Have you ever relied on the first streak of information while making an important decision in your life? Do you focus only on ideas that support your point of view? Do you tend to overestimate your knowledge and skills and consider others’ opinions as absurd or out of the way?

These examples indicate that you must be using a cognitive bias in your daily decision-making. Probably you’re not aware of it and these biases slowly take an unconscious subjective shape.

Maybe you will try hard to make your decisions more rational and objective. But these errors are stopping you from seeing what’s real.

Sometimes we are faced with situations in life where decision-making gets wrong. It simply happens because biased thinking clouds your real perception.

What you decide upon depends upon your subjective experiences and not on objective reality.

Be alert and know how these subtle erroneous thinking can affect critical reasoning and decision-making. Your life experiences may change in a profound way if you overcome these subtle unconscious biases.

Cognitive Bias Infographics

Cognitive Bias - Meaning, Examples, Signs, Causes, Types & More
Cognitive Bias – Meaning, Examples, Signs, Causes, Types & More
Cognitive Bias - Meaning, Examples, Signs, Causes, Types & More
Cognitive Bias – Meaning, Examples, Signs, Causes, Types & More

What is Cognitive Bias?

Simply defined, cognitive bias refers to faulty thought patterns or errors in cognition. It shows a person’s tendency to perceive and comprehend information based on some preconceived ideas, beliefs, and preferences. Thus, it leads to deviation from objective judgment.

Do you think that all attractive people are intelligent? Have you ever denied visiting a place only because someone told you that the place is not worth seeing?

Do you believe certain things only because your friends also trust them?

In the above situations, your decision-making and judgments are based on subjective preferences and beliefs. It is not what it really is.

Cognitive bias is mostly unconscious. You are not aware of it when in use. These systematic distortions and errors in thinking may arise due to problems in attention, perception, memory, thinking, and reasoning.

Sometimes, a cognitive bias is also referred to as mental shortcuts or mind ‘timesaver’. Your brain is ever-powerful but it has its limitations. 

Cognitive biases are loopholes in thinking that occur when the brain attempts to streamline the processing of information.

Cognitive biases are a way of thinking that deviates from the normal. Thus, the thought processes that occur due to these biases are usually faulty and undermine logical decision-making. 

These biases work as heuristics, or rules of thumb that facilitate and speed up information processing.

According to Cambridge Dictionary, a cognitive bias is defined as “the way a particular person understands events, facts, and other people, which is based on their own particular set of beliefs and experiences and may not be reasonable or accurate.”

Cognitive bias examples

  • A very common example of cognitive bias is loss aversion biases. You must have come across these biased ideas many times in your daily life. These biases refer to a tendency where you will feel more pain in losing something than achieving that same thing in some other form. For example: losing 1000$ will give you more psychological pain than receiving the same amount from some other source.
  • Another common example of cognitive bias is the illusion of control. This is an inclination that a person has to overestimate their ability to control events and circumstances. They might hold a false belief that whatever has happened is because of them.

If someone goes to the restaurant and orders a completely new dish and it turns out to be great, the person might believe that he/she has a great choice.

How Cognitive bias works?

Cognitive biases occur due to mistakes in different cognitive processes such as attention, perception, thinking, and memory. 

Sometimes these systematic errors lead to poor critical thinking skills. Maybe you’ll start thinking one-dimensional only, ignoring the other aspects of the issue completely.

If you remember an event in a faulty way where most of the memory traces were forgotten, it can lead to cognitive bias.

You will make a decision only on the half-hearted memory traces that you could recall, leading to erroneous decision-making.

Likewise, your attention is always selective. It is not possible for you to attend to every minute detail of information that you come across. 

In such a case, you will pay attention only to certain aspects of the information only. It results in faulty perception and inadequate memory consolidation.

Later on, when you are required to take a call or decide on that small piece of information, you’ll lookout for some easy shortcuts to decide on things.

Thereby, you’ll use cognitive bias to simplify the process of information processing.

At times, cognitive bias leads to cognitive dissonance. Your newly acquired information may collide with the previous ones.

Signs of cognitive bias

The idea of cognitive bias was introduced in psychology by researchers Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman in 1972.

They described cognitive bias as “people’s systematic but purportedly flawed patterns of responses to judgment and decision problems.

Later on, other researchers have described many different biases that people use to simplify and streamline information processing. 

It is used to ease the decision-making process. Cognitive bias affects decision-making in social relationships, education, business, finance, etc.

We all use cognitive bias in our daily life. It is easier to identify these loopholes and thinking fallacies in others. But it may be difficult to spot the signs in you.

These biases distort reality and influence your opinions, ideas, and beliefs to a great extent. Just because biases are prejudiced and off-beat thinking, it can lead to faulty decision-making.

Research studies on cognition have found that cognitive bias interferes with critical thinking and logical conclusions.

  • There is a tendency for people to look for information and new storylines that support their preconceived ideas and viewpoints.
  • The person blames others or external situations if things do not go according to their wishes.
  • You tend to give more credit to yourself for your successful endeavors.
  • Sometimes, you may think that others have achieved success out of luck by chance.
  • There is a general assumption that others should also have your point of view.
  • You are close-minded and do not want to listen to others’ beliefs and opinions.
  • Assuming that you know all the details about a situation when in reality it is not so.
  • You will frequently misinterpret situations and make incorrect decisions.
  • Cognitive biases are faulty thinking.
  • It disrupts critical thinking.

A brief history of cognitive bias

Cognitive bias is a term first identified by Israeli scientists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman in the early 1970s. 

They found that humans possess faulty thinking patterns and they use them to make important decisions in their daily life.

Their research found that people simply make decisions on limited information and resources. It means they draw conclusions based on what they already know on that particular topic. 

Due to this lack of adequate resources, people rely on cognitive bias that acts as shortcuts and helps in quick decision-making.

For example: if you have limited time to decide on which weekend getaway to visit, you’ll decide to visit the same place that you have already visited before.

Since you don’t have enough time to think over and decide, you’ll rely on past experience and visit a place that you already know is good enough. Thus, here you take a mental shortcut to decision making.

These researchers also pointed out that there are some cognitive biases that make people decide illogically. 

The problem is, these mental shortcuts are often faulty and based on subjective experiences. They tend to influence faulty reasoning and critical thinking.

Types of Cognitive bias (A complete list of 25 cognitive biases with examples)

In this section of the article, we will discuss 25 cognitive biases or inclinations that influence our day-to-day decision-making. 

The most important and widely seen biases include the following types:

1. Confirmation bias

This bias occurs when you look for and give importance to information that supports your preconceived notions, ideas, beliefs, and expectations. 

It means you will interpret new information about something only in the light of some previous knowledge that you already have.

You will reject, ignore, or avoid data that do not support your beliefs and perception. This leads to faulty decision-making because you’ll be inclined to believe only in things that support your ideas.

You will not look for any additional information. Confirmation bias makes you invalidate facts that go against your existing beliefs.

Sometimes this bias doesn’t allow you to change even if the evidence is given to you.

Example: a common example of confirmation bias is seen in social media posts. If the social media posts talking about something that you favor or support your ideas, you’ll rely on that information.

But if it gives any conflicting information that doesn’t support your ideas, you may completely deny them, even if they are true and authentic.

2. Anchoring bias

This bias makes you believe and trust only the first piece of information that you have. The first information acts as an anchor that decides all future decisions. 

Psychologists believe that anchoring bias is a focal reference that helps you decide your next course of action without any second-guessing.

When making purchases people always rely on the first piece of information about the product.

The value and price of the commodity are always judged on the previous information that the person has on that particular product.

Example: If you are searching for good walking shoes online you’ll always look for the same brand of shoes that you have already used.

This is because you’re relying on your previous knowledge that a particular brand is good. You can have the best deal in terms of pricing and durability.

3. Actor-observer bias

This bias is your inclination or tendency to attribute your problems to some external factors.

At the same time, you will consider others’ problems to be due to certain internal factors. This bias influences your perception of others in reference to your own. 

Example: You may assign the reason behind your diabetes and high cholesterol as related to genetic causes.

However, you may consider that some other people have developed the illness out of poor lifestyle choices. 

4. Attention bias

This cognitive bias is an inclination to attend to only a certain piece of information while ignoring or avoiding others. 

Attention bias is a kind of evolutionary response. Sometimes, you will be bombarded with a constant flow of information and it is not possible to pay attention to all of them.

Thus, you become choosy and selective. Thus, you will choose the information that is important, relevant, and in tune with your needs and goals.

It means you will ignore all other messages that are irrelevant or not needed of the hour.

Sometimes, this habit can turn into a bias if you constantly focus on only one kind of information and limit your choices.

Example: While purchasing a house, you may only focus on the location and exterior look of the building while totally ignoring safety measures, pricing, the reputation of the builder, etc.

5. Availability heuristic

This cognitive bias is pretty common in daily life. This refers to a tendency to give greater importance and significance to those ideas that come first to someone’s mind easily.

If an idea or information comes to you too quickly, you will be inclined to trust that idea fully.

That means the readily available information is always given priority because it acts as a quick fix to your problems. You can decide a thing quickly.

People who use this cognitive bias in their daily life may be inclined to support information or past memory traces that are easily accessible. 

According to the American Psychological Association, you will always rely on easily found information and consider it true and valid.

Example: If news coverage shows that marine animals are regularly attacking tourists in coastal areas, you will probably build an idea that coastal getaways should be avoided.

You will form an idea that the risks are high and you should not visit the coastline for some time now.

Here, you will form a judgment based on a single piece of information (news) without trying to learn in detail the background information about the broadcasted news.

6. False consensus effect

This bias refers to an overestimation of how others support, agree, and approve your ideas and viewpoints. It means you think that what you believe in is common while the beliefs of others are uncommon.

You will overestimate the degree of consensus that others show towards your ideas and judgments. You may have a false notion that others also have the same opinion as yours. 

Sometimes false consensus makes you overestimate the number of people who are like you or share your preferences.

This bias leads to a tendency when you start to see your beliefs, attitudes, ideas as being typical and shared by many others around you.

Example: If you like going to a movie every Friday night, you may develop a false notion that your spouse will also prefer accompanying you every week.

But this idea is irrational because your spouse may like doing something else. He/she may have some other plans set for Friday night.

Since they accompanied you previously, you felt that they shared a common preference with you. Here, you overestimated the degree of consensus, nothing else.

7. Functional fixedness

This is a mental tendency to see the usefulness of a particular thing in one way only. This bias makes you think that the object can have a traditional use only.

You cannot use it in any other way. It limits your judgment and logical power. 

Your brain is hard-wired to think in one straightway. You are not looking for alternative things. It is harmful in relationships and disrupts workplace habits. 

You may not realize that your personal assistant can also be considered for the role of a manager. In spite of being skillful, you may not prefer to give him/her a chance to prove their worth.

Functional fixedness restricts your outlook to seeing things in a new light. You are fixated at one point and cannot use a tool, device, or an individual in some other way.

It stops you from being creative and undermines your problem-solving skills.

Example: Can you think of using a hairdryer in some other way apart from drying hair? If not, you are stuck in the rut of functional fixedness.

8. Halo effect

This cognitive bias makes you inclined towards an overall impression of a person or thing.

If your impression is positive, you will think and feel that the other person is intelligent and attractive. But if your initial impression is not great, you may consider their character traits.

The Halo effect impacts your judgments and decision-making. You will use a single trait to evaluate all other aspects of a person.

Sometimes, the halo effect is also known as the “physical attractiveness stereotype.”

People experiencing this distortion in thinking will be inclined to judge people on the basis of one single quality or fault. Thus, the judgments become biased and decision-making becomes faulty.

Example: The Halo effect is very common in your daily life. You may think that all celebrities live happy and peaceful lives. They have no agonies, no tension. 

This judgment is based on an overall impression that all celebrities are successful. They have money, social regard, and all the comforts that life can have. Thus, they are happy. But in reality, this is not possible.

Sometimes, you may judge a physically attractive person as intelligent, positive-minded, and sociable; but it could be something else as well.

You may think that since the person appears good from their outward looks, they will also possess many good character traits.

9. Optimism bias

This type of cognitive bias relies on the fact that you are more likely to be successful and accomplished in life than others.

You are too hopeful about your life’s journey. Maybe you do not want to see the other side of the coin.

Optimism bias stops you from seeing reality. You may feel that suffering and misfortune are not for you.

This bias is psychologically harmful because it acts as an illusion. You will always underestimate the probability of bad things happening to you.

People who suffer from this cognitive bias are usually too unrealistic about their views about life.

If you ask them about their chances of suffering a job loss, a breakup, or any other misfortune, they may rely back on saying, “It won’t happen to me, I’m sure about it”.

Optimism bias acts as a wrong belief and clouds our thoughts. It makes us think that we can never suffer from misfortune.

The chances are less than others. Sometimes, this bias leads to an overestimation of happy feelings and puts you in the grip of toxic positivity

You will see only the brighter side of things, totally ignoring the risks. Thus, it leads to poor decision-making.

Example: You may hold a false belief that you can never get the infection of covid-19 because you are diet conscious, and living a healthy lifestyle.

Thus, your immunity is high and you can’t be infected. Your chances of infection are much less than others.

10. Misinformation effect

When you rely on post-event information to judge what you know originally, it means you are using the cognitive bias called the misinformation effect.

The later knowledge about something affects or interferes with what you already know about that situation or event.

Your memory of an event will be influenced by what you hear from others. It means the new information tries to contradict the previous information that you have about an event or happening.

This effect is harmful because it leads to the formation of false and distorted memory traces that are not accurate. Thus, the misinformation effect leads to faulty decision-making. 

Researchers have shown that your minimal exposure to new information post-event can highly influence the old memory traces that you already have about an event. 

This cognitive bias affects the response of eyewitnesses to a great extent.

Example: If someone follows the news of an event every day and gets new information, it interferes with what they already know about the event.

Asking an eyewitness, “Did you see the man falling down from the motorcycle while the accident occurred? Or “As per reports, the man fell off from the left side.”

In the example, the first question is about asking the eyewitness what they have actually seen on the spot. The second line is immediately giving them a hint about what they might have seen. 

The new information is colliding with the memory traces of the event and can mislead the eyewitness to give a wrong answer. It can distort the real observation of the witness and lead to faulty conclusions.

11. Self-serving bias

This bias is an inclination to give credit to you when good things happen. And blame the outside circumstances for all the bad things happening in your life.

Sometimes this cognitive bias protects your self-esteem but most of the time it’s harmful. It again clouds and distorts what’s real. 

Self-serving bias leads to false beliefs and makes you evade personal responsibility for an action. Maybe, you do not want to take the onus on yourself if things go wrong in life.

Example: If you qualify and stand first in a competitive examination, you may start thinking that you are skillful, or you have studied hard to achieve good results. 

But, if you fail in your endeavors, you’ll start blaming others or the system for the failure. You might believe that faculty members didn’t do their best teaching, or questions were out of the curriculum, etc.

12. The Dunning-Kruger effect

This cognitive bias makes a person overestimate their self-worth. It means they tend to think that they are smarter, intelligent, and more able than their peers or family members.

This bias makes one believe that they are more competent, can achieve success much easier than others.

Even if the person has limited know-how or ability in a particular domain, they may feel that they are always competent and able.

This overestimation leads to faulty beliefs and can lead to improper decision-making.

The person becomes ignorant of their true skills and actual potential. It makes you ignore the flaws that you might be having. 

Example: Someone showing off that they know all the nitty-gritty of basketball playing but in reality might know only a bit of it. 

13. In-group bias

This bias leads to an unhealthy attitude towards members of the out-group. You will believe that members of your own group are intelligent, skillful, confident, and can never do any wrong.

However, all those who do not belong to the in-group are different and less able.

Thus, you will support and believe people who are members of your own group. This bias is less objective and you may show prejudice or hold some typical ideas about the out-group members even if it’s not real.

In-group biases lead to racial discrimination or xenophobia. You may start disliking people who do not belong to the in-group.

Sometimes, this bias leads to favoritism when it comes to job selection, giving some social rights to someone, etc.

This bias leads to giving more preference to one’s own group members and ignoring the goodness of the out-group.

Example: Students of one college may think that they are much better in all respects than the other college in the same locality.

14. Hindsight bias

This cognitive bias makes you perceive an event as predictable. After the event happened, you may start saying that you knew this is going to be like this.

You are aware of this scenario happening in a particular way. Sometimes, this bias is also referred to as the “knew it all along with effect”.

It means that you had an idea that things will happen in similar ways as what you have already thought.

With this bias in place, you will tend to overestimate your ability to predict the outcome of the situation. Hindsight bias operates more often in sports, politics, and social matters.

Example: If your preferred cricket team wins the game, you may say, “I knew that the team will surely win, this team has not learned to fail.” Or “the outcome was probable. I knew it just when the game started.”

15. Fundamental attribution error

This cognitive bias is also known as correspondence bias in social psychology. Here, a person will tend to judge others on the basis of personality traits rather than situational factors.

You may assume that someone’s action is determined by the type of person he/she is. This bias undermines the role of environmental factors in a person’s behavior. 

This belief is based on the false idea that a person is always internally motivated to do certain things. Their environment never plays any role. But in real-life, this is a wrong notion.

Example: If a person shouts at his/her colleague in a workplace set-up, the manager may think that the person is like that only. He/she always remains in a bad mood and never talks properly with co-workers.

Here, the manager may ignore the situational triggers that may have forced the person to behave in such a manner.

16. Pessimism bias

This bias is an inclination to overestimate the likelihood of a negative outcome. At the same time, you will also undermine the likelihood of having a positive outcome.

You may always try to highlight the pessimistic ideas and think of a worst-case situation. Most people who suffer from self-loathing or have a lot of guilt or shame in them tend to behave in this manner.

This bias is unhealthy because it makes you see only the bad happenings of your life.

Even if something great has happened recently, you’ll tend to underestimate the good things completely and shall focus on pessimism and negativity.

Example: If you are in the rut of pessimism bias, you may think you are going to fail in your first job interview, even if you seem to be well prepared to face the interview and are most likely to do well.

17. Status quo bias

This is a cognitive bias where a person feels that things should remain as they are. Nothing should change in their immediate environment. 

This bias makes you prefer the current state of affairs. This has a negative impact as it never allows you to change.

You will feel an emotional discomfort if anything deviates from its normal course of action.

As you are used to following a certain reference point, you are more likely not to change according to the circumstance. Any sort of change will be perceived as a loss. 

This bias was first identified by William Samuelson and Richard Zeckhauser in 1988. This bias influences your decision-making process in daily life. 

Example: You are more likely to order the same cappuccino coffee each time you visit your favorite café.

This is because you are insecure about choosing an alternative in case you suffer a loss; such as if the taste is not good or maybe the pricing is much higher than the quality of the beverage, etc.

18. Gambler’s fallacy

This is a distorted perception that leads to faulty thinking. In this cognitive bias, the person may believe that the probability of future occurrence of an event is based on the past history of that type of event.

If a particular event occurs a number of times in the past, then its chances of future occurrence will be less.

However, if it had not occurred frequently in the past, it may happen more often in the future. This fallacy is a belief that previous outcomes influence future outcomes.

Example: If you toss a coin a number of times and each time it shows up ‘head’, then you may predict the future outcome and think that the coin will face its tail the next time. 

19. Bandwagon bias

This cognitive bias typically operates in social situations.

Here, the person may develop a tendency to adopt certain behavior patterns, lifestyle choices, attitudes, communication styles, just because it’s prevalent in the community.

Thus, this bias leads to conformity to a group just to develop a form of group identity. You will typically be a part of the bandwagon effect if you try to follow the trend doing rounds in the social sphere.

Examples: there are several day-to-day situations that show that humans are easily fooled by the bandwagon effect. 

  • You may start following a strict diet plan and do vigorous exercise just because your best friend is also doing it.
  • Sometimes you are more likely to cast your vote for the candidate who others in the family think will win.
  • If others adopt a fashion and follow a specific trend, you may be inclined to try out the brand as well.
  • If your best friend posts every day on Instagram and Facebook, you will also feel the temptation to do the same. It’s simply a bandwagon effect after all. Isn’t it?

20. Mere Exposure effect

In this cognitive bias, the person develops an inclination to develop preferences for things or a liking for people who are known to them. 

This means familiar people or known things do play a part in how they perceive their surroundings and decide upon issues in life. The Mere Exposure effect is also known as the familiarity effect. 

Example: a simple example of this bias is your inclination to hug your mother every time you leave the house for some office work.

You do this because your mother also does the same when she leaves you for some days on your own. 

21. Overconfidence bias

This bias makes you overestimate your abilities and skills. You are more than confident about yourself. This false notion can lead to illogical decision-making. It hampers relationships.

Sometimes, this bias makes you feel that you are better than your co-worker, or an intimate friend. Thus, the bias can make you nitpicky. You may not accept others as they are.

Whenever you overestimate your real worth, you may land up in trouble. You may engage in risky behaviors as well. 

If you feel your friend drives slowly, just to prove yourself a better driver, you may resort to rash driving and end up in an accident. 

Thus, this faulty thinking can lead to several big or small problems in daily life. Your judgments will not be accurate and decisions based simply on assumptions. 

For example, you may think that your mathematics and reasoning skills are excellent and much better than your friend’s. This may be an overestimation of your skills.

22. Illusory correlation

This is a cognitive bias where a person tends to correlate two independent events when in reality there is no such relationship. This distorted thinking happens because of faulty information processing. 

Example:  A school lad always wears the same yellow t-shirt in his interschool football tournament because he believes that yellow is his lucky charm and his team will win the match.

There is no relationship between yellow and winning a game, but some previous experience led to biased decision-making.

23. Framing Effect

This biased tendency takes place when your decisions are affected and influenced by the way the facts and information are presented to you. 

This cognitive bias influences our thought process. When the same fact or information is presented to us in different ways, we use this mental shortcut of framing to decide quickly. 

There is a tendency to value the information that is worded positively because we want to play safe and never land up in danger. Thus, the general idea of this bias is to avoid losses and avail gain.


  • A lottery saying a 90% chance of winning is better and more appealing than the one that says a 10% chance of losing.
  • A cereal claiming 90% gluten-free is better appealing than the one saying 10% gluten. Though the meaning is the same, the way this information is presented impacts the thought process of the people. People will think that a higher number means a better deal and no loss.

24.  Bystander Effect

It denotes a psychological phenomenon where you are less likely to help others, act instantly and save a life during an emergency if you see that there are many other eyewitnesses present on the spot.

If many bystanders are waiting to act, you’ll also wait. You want to see if someone else is offering the help or not. When you are a part of a large crowd, you’ll not take the onus on yourself.

When greater numbers of people are around, you are not likely to help the person in distress quickly. You will become a bystander and wait for someone else to take responsibility for the action.

This happens because of a phenomenon called ‘diffusion of responsibility. It means that since many people are there, you are not under the pressure to act quickly and take responsibility for the victim.

Example: you may also participate in bystander guilt in your own house. If many people are staying in the same family, one member doesn’t take the responsibility of doing a particular task.

Each one will wait for the other person to accomplish the task.

25. Spotlight effect

This bias can make you self-conscious. It happens when you overestimate the degree to which people attend to you, or notice your appearance, behavior, communication style, etc. 

You are always conscious of how people think about you, perceive you in social situations.

This bias is psychologically unhealthy and can undermine your self-esteem. You will suffer from the constant anxiety of being watched or noticed by others.

This leads to feelings of comparison with others for no obvious reasons.

Example: Feelings of being noticed in a social gathering may lead to a spotlight effect.

If someone feels that others are talking about them, or observing their appearance, dressing style, or behavior, be sure they are experiencing a spotlight effect.

Causes of cognitive bias

It is not possible to process, assimilate, and decide on every small piece of information that we receive from the outside environment.

Thus, cognitive bias helps us to take a shortcut route to decision making.

If we sit with so many options to make simple life choices, it will take a lot of time. So, cognitive biases speed up the decision-making process.

There are many factors that cause these biases to occur. Some of them are as follows:

  • Feelings and emotions and the way it affects the thought processes.
  • Individual motives that guide behavior.
  • Inabilities of the human brain to attend, perceive and process a continuous flow of information.
  • Our cultural and social background directly affects the way we think, feel, and act in different circumstances.
  • Age of the person. With age mental flexibility decreases and makes the person more prone to act with biased judgments.
  • Family upbringing and social pressures.

Impact of cognitive biases

Cognitive biases are not always bad. They act as mind tools. It helps in quick decision-making.

But in most circumstances, they can make you think in a straight line.  It limits your ability to look for alternative solutions to problems.

Cognitive biases lead to faulty decisions as well. If the information processing is faulty, it is obvious that your conclusions will not be objective.

The impact of cognitive bias will be easily understood from the following points:

  • It lowers your ability to solve problems creatively.
  • Leads to one-directional thinking only.
  • Cognitive bias hampers critical thinking.
  • You will not be able to trust your memory because of inadequate memory traces.
  • You may feel guilty for making the wrong decision.
  • Increases mental stress.
  • Cognitive bias makes you judgmental. You may lose your ability to stay flexible and open-minded.
  • These biases hamper personal relationships and workplace connections.
  • Cognitive bias lowers your ability to think innovatively and arrive at some good decisions.

How do you overcome cognitive biases?

We cannot undo cognitive biases completely. But we can correct faulty thoughts and errors as much as possible so that the decision-making process doesn’t get affected in any way.

The human mind always tries to work fast and quickly. This means that we will always have an inclination to act fast and take shortcuts in decision-making.

Research findings claim that we can improve critical thinking and lower the impact of cognitive biases.

This can be done by raising awareness about the different types of errors in thinking that we do in our daily life.

As we know, awareness is knowledge. It guides thought processes in desirable ways. Thus, we can overcome the distortions in thinking and come up with more logical reasoning in decision-making.

Sometimes social psychology research uses cognitive bias modification tools to directly alter the biased beliefs with more logical ones. 

This procedure modifies interpreting information in such a way that it fosters healthy thinking and rational decision-making.

Some of the ways to overcome and reduce the impact of cognitive bias is given below:

1. Learn more about cognitive biases 

When you know what biases are, you’ll be able to rule out their negative impact easily. You can go through a few books or scholarly articles over the internet to understand the biases better.

2. Keep your options open while you decide on important matters

If you feel that you’re confused and might be in the grip of cognitive bias, ask others about your own perspectives.

Try to get information from different sources before making the final call. Expand your social connections and consult others who can give better suggestions.

3. Collaborate with others

You can connect with many people to know their ideas and viewpoints on the issue. Sometimes when you gather information from various sources, it becomes easy to make a decision. 

Others may have more experience and expertise than you. You may have overlooked certain things that they may point out.

 In this way, you’ll have better clarity about certain things. It will rule out the biases and lead to objective decision-making.

4. Learn to ignore and avoid stimuli that might lead to biased judgments

Sometimes it is better to stay aloof, ignore, and avoid things that might lead to biased decisions. You need to keep a blind eye if you feel you’re falling into a rut of bias. Avoid listening to stereotypical social ideas, gender disparities, etc.

5. Delve in curiosity

Curiosity means an urge to know more about something. Your curious mind can actually help you overcome biased thinking. 

It helps you to explore, innovate, and seek out new information. If you feel you’re facing biased thinking, you can remain open to new learning. 

Try to analyze the situation from all ends so that you can develop new insights into the issue at hand. In one way, curiosity drives critical thinking and enhances your problem-solving ability.

6. Consider that you may be wrong as well

You should always keep some space for self-doubt because it stops you from becoming an overconfident person. Thus, if you’re humble and keep on learning, you’ll always look for an alternative thinking style. 

This increases objective thinking and reduces biases. Consider the fact that you can also commit mistakes and it is wrong in doing it.

Sometimes mistakes help in better learning. It improves critical thinking and analytical power. You will seek the support of others and make a proper decision.

Cognitive bias questionnaire

The Cognitive Bias Questionnaire for Psychosis, popularly known as the CBQp is a psychometric test used to analyze cognitive distortions and faulty perceptions in psychotic disorders such as Schizophrenia.

The test can measure five cognitive distortions and errors in thinking. They are:

  • Jumping to conclusion
  • Intentionalizing
  • Catastrophizing
  • Emotional reasoning
  • Dichotomous thinking

Cognitive bias book

There are several good reads that can help you improve critical thinking and overcome cognitive biases. If you start reading these books, you can improve your decision-making skills as well.

Some of the well-known books are as follows:

1. Thinking, Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman)

2. How Not To Be Wrong – The Art Of Changing Your Mind (James O’ Brien)

3. Critical Thinking – The Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Critical Thinking Skills, Becoming better at Problem solving, Mastering Logical Fallacies, and Avoiding Cognitive Biases (Scott Lovell)

4. The 25 Cognitive Biases: Understanding Human Psychology, Decision making, and How To Not Fall Victim To Them (Kai Mushashi)

The video link shared below talks about types of cognitive bias that you may come across in your everyday life. Do check out.

Summing Up from ‘ThePleasantMind’

Cognitive bias is a mind fallacy. It’s your internal way of distorted and improper thinking patterns that leads to the lowering of critical thinking and reasoning.

It can cloud your thoughts and may not allow you to make an objective decision.

If you always possess a strong tendency to believe in things that confirm your faulty perspectives and improper memory traces, you may end up making a big error in decision-making in everyday life.

Thus, it is desirable to keep these biases in check so that they do not overpower your judgments and evaluations. 

If you can forgo biases, you will become more objective and reliable. Your tendency towards favoring information will reduce and stereotypical, predisposed beliefs will take a backseat.

Maybe you will be able to have better control over your life and decision-making process.

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Apart from this, if you wish to bring about a change in your life, then do not forget to read our article here!

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