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10 Bizarre Cognitive Biases

Updated on July 7, 2019
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Abderrahim Badiy, known as Anthony BADIY author of "Intellect Prisoner"

Short Introduction

From the beginning of psychology scientists tried to understand the human construction, if it’s soul or mind that guide our behaviors and decision making, psychologist had discovered numerous biases in human behavior, and the existence of this biases affect out logical thinking and may interrupt our decisions.

Cognitive biases refer to ways of thinking or a thought process that produces errors in judgment or decision making, or at least departures from the use of normative rules or standards (Gilovich and Griffin, 2002). A prevailing model is that cognitive biases result from the use of thinking shortcuts or heuristics, where such shortcuts lead to wrong decisions (Tversky and Kahneman, 1974). Even though not all shortcuts lead to wrong decisions some are beneficial.

Research into cognitive biases that impair human judgment has mostly been applied to the area of economic decision-making. Ethical decision-making has been comparatively neglected. Since ethical decisions often involve very high individual as well as collective stakes, analyzing how cognitive biases affect them can be expected to yield important results.

In this list we are going to take a look on 10 bizarre cognitive biases that you may have experienced, don’t worry you are not in danger, most of the population experienced one or more of this biases without knowing, our minds fool us to believe something is right while actually it’s not.

1- Curse of knowledge

The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that occurs when an individual, communicating with other individuals, unknowingly assumes that the others have the background to understand. For example, in a classroom setting, teachers have difficulty teaching novices because they cannot put themselves in the position of the student. A brilliant professor might no longer remember the difficulties that a young student encounters when learning a new subject. This curse of knowledge also explains the danger behind thinking about student learning based on what appears best to faculty members, as opposed to what has been verified with students — Wikipedia

2- Gambler's fallacy

The gambler's fallacy (also the Monte Carlo fallacy or the fallacy of statistics) is the logical fallacy that a random process becomes less random, and more predictable, as it is repeated. This is most commonly seen in gambling, hence the name of the fallacy. For example, a person playing craps may feel that the dice are "due" for a certain number, based on their failure to win after multiple rolls. This is a false belief as the odds of rolling a certain number are the same for each roll, independent of previous or future rolls. –Wikipedia

3- Hot-hand fallacy

The "hot-hand" fallacy (also known as the hot-hand phenomenon) is a belief that someone who has success with a seemingly random event will continue to have future success at the same endeavor because of their previous success.
This term was coined from the frequently held belief in basketball that a person who makes a shot will be more likely to make shots afterwards - they have "hot hands." For instance, a person playing basketball makes a successful shot. It is frequently assumed that one "lucky" shot leads to many better shots and they are more likely to make a shot if they made the shot previous to it.

4- Weber–Fechner law

Weber-Fechner law, historically important psychological law quantifying the perception of change in a given stimulus. The law states that the change in a stimulus that will be just noticeable is a constant ratio of the original stimulus. It has been shown not to hold for extremes of stimulation.

The law was originally postulated to describe researches on weight lifting by the German physiologist Ernst Heinrich Weber in 1834 and was later applied to the measurement of sensation by Weber’s student Gustav Theodor Fechner, who went on to develop from the law the science of psychophysics. By stating a relationship between the spiritual and physical worlds, the law indicated to Fechner that there is really only one world, the spiritual. To others, the law meant the possibility of a scientific, quantitative psychology. The combined work of Weber and Fechner has been useful, especially in hearing and vision research, and has had an impact on attitude scaling and other testing and theoretical developments –Britannica

5- Google effect

The Google effect, also called digital amnesia,is the tendency to forget information that can be found readily online by using Internet search engines such as Google. According to the first study about the Google effect people are less likely to remember certain details they believe will be accessible online. However, the study also claims that people's ability to learn information offline remains the same. This effect may also be seen as a change to what information and what level of detail is considered to be important to remember –Wikipedia

6- Tachypsychia

Tachypsychia is a neurological condition that alters the perception of time, usually induced by physical exertion, drug use, or a traumatic event. For someone affected by tachypsychia, time perceived by the individual either lengthens, making events appear to slow down, or contracts, objects appearing as moving in a speeding blur.

It is generally believed that tachypsychia is induced by a combination of high levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, usually during periods of great physical stress or in violent confrontation –Wikipedia

7- Zeigarnik effect

The Zeigarnik effect was named after its founder, Russian psychiatrist and psychologist Bluma Wulfovna Zeigarnik. While dining at a restaurant in the 1920s, Zeigarnik noticed waiters were able to keep track of complex orders and unpaid meals, but once the orders were filled and paid for, the waiters were unable to recall detailed information about the orders. Intrigued, she decided to study the phenomenon via a series of experiments in her lab.

In one of her experiments, Zeigarnik asked a group of 138 children to complete a series of simple tasks, puzzles, and arithmetic problems. She allowed the children to complete half of the tasks and interrupted them during the remaining tasks. Zeigarnik investigated their recall after an hour’s delay and discovered 110 of the 138 children had better recall for the interrupted tasks than the completed tasks. In a related experiment involving adults, the participants were able to recall unfinished tasks 90% better than completed tasks.

The Zeigarnik effect has since been studied by many other researchers, with some able to replicate Zeigarnik’s findings and others unable to do so. Several models have been proposed to explain the effect. Some theories mention the cognitive tension that arises from having an unfinished task and the need to keep the task in mind in order to eventually complete it and release this internal tension.

8- Self-generation effect

The generation effect is the phenomenon of being better able to remember information that has been generated within the mind rather than material that had been read or heard. This phenomenon is not well-understood and there are a few theories that attempt to explain it. The generation effect is possibly due to the effort that is involved in the attempt to figure out a problem rather than the passive effect of merely reading about it. This is also possibly the source of success in the 'hands-on' learning that is used in some classrooms and subjects.

9- Rhyme as reason effect

The rhyme-as-reason effect, is a cognitive bias whereupon a saying or aphorism is judged as more accurate or truthful when it is rewritten to rhyme.

In experiments, subjects judged variations of sayings which did and did not rhyme, and tended to evaluate those that rhymed as more truthful.

For example, the statement "What sobriety conceals, alcohol reveals" was judged to be more accurate than by different participants who saw "What sobriety conceals, alcohol unmasks" –Wikipedia

10- Ben Franklin effect

Ben Franklin discovered that a person who has done someone a favor is more likely to do that person another favor than they would be had they received a favor. Or, as Franklin put it: “He that has once done you a Kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.” This simple technique can be used to gain your favor or create a sense of indebt to others.

When we do a person a favor, we tend to like them more as a result. This is because we justify our actions to ourselves that we did them a favor because we liked them.

Benjamin Franklin himself said, "He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged."

The reverse effect is also true, and we come to hate our victims, which helps to explain wartime atrocities. We de-humanize the enemy, which decrease the dissonance of killing and other things in which we would never normally indulge.


There are many destructive objects around us and cognitive biases are some of the systematic patterns in our minds deviation us from rationality, and cause us to be irrational in the way that we search for, evaluate, interpret, judge, use, and remember information, anyone may experience one or more cognitive biases when we fail to correct faulty intuitive impressions, or when we fail to conduct a valid reasoning process. Both these issues occur as a result of the way that our cognitive systems work.

Cognitive biases can be categorized based on the area of cognition in which they affect us (e.g. decision-making or memory), and based on their cause (e.g. social influence or limited cognitive-capacity). Biases can also be categorized based on a hot/cold distinction, with hot biases being motivated by emotional considerations and cold biases being driven by emotionally-neutral processes. They can affect us negatively in many areas of life (Work, relationships, parenting and socially) when they cause us to find sub-optimal solutions to our problems. However, biases can sometimes be beneficial, such as when they help us find quick solutions to our problems.

However, it’s possible to debias yourself and others successfully through the use of metacognitive strategies, which can help you conduct a valid reasoning process. Furthermore, you can reduce the number of biases that you experience by training yourself to form better intuitive impressions, and increase self-awareness.

How to learn more about cognitive biases

If you are interested in the topic of cognitive biases, and would like to learn more about them and about the way people think and make decisions, here are a few recommended books that you should look at:

Thinking, Fast and Slow (by Daniel Kahneman)- this is the foremost book to read if you want to understand how our cognitive systems work and why we have cognitive biases.

Predictably Irrational (by Dan Ariely)- this book will help you understand the systematic patterns of irrationality that people display when they make decisions.

The Art of Thinking Clearly (by Rolf Dobelli)- this book will help you learn about common biases that we encounter in our everyday life.

© 2019 Abderrahim BADIY


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