Cognitive biases

This post will be discussing 4 types of cognitive biases

Self- Enhancing transmission bias

In the process of protecting one’s ego, a person takes more responsibility for their successes and try to blame failures on external factors, as they find it hard to come to terms with their mistakes. I think this bias can be particularly damaging to an individual’s character if they are not aware of it because it will hinder their ability to improve in that area of work. I have definitely been victim to this bias before, for example in the past when I have missed a deadline in enterprise I was still able to achieve my desired grade at the end of it. This meant that I was successful in one aspect, which was the content of the work, but unsuccessful in another aspect, time management. When my mum asked me what led to my delayed submission, I sort of blamed it on external factors like my busy schedule outside of school. And this is very obviously me not owning up to a mistake, because I rather be happier about the good grade than confess to the disorganised process. Since I have tried to be more mature about such situations because inside I know that these excuses are not in complete fault and I have to take responsibility for my actions.

Money illusion

This is the tendency to think of money as it’s nominal value instead of its real value, this means that they look at their money at face value (it’s denomination) but don’t value it against how much stuff that money is able to buy you. Personally, I am very much a victim of this bias, because I don’t keep up with inflation rates and until I read about this bias I did not even realise that the value of money changes (even though my dad has sort of spoken to me about this before). I think especially since I am young I don’t have such high expenses to take care of that I don’t necessarily see immediate changes in the amounts of purchases I make. But I think another example where this bias could be applied when it comes to spending money in a different currency.

Framing effect

This is when a person frames questions and statements in a certain way that presents the opinions they identify with, and this intern influences the person being asked the question or receiving the information. Last year when conducting primary research for my enterprise project it was very important for us to avoid this bias, as we did not want to influence peoples answers. For example instead of asking would you prefer strawberry flavored snow cones over blueberry flavour, we asked them what flavours of snowcone would you prefer, and gave them multiple options to choose from. Another example of this would be in a case where you frame a question negatively or positively. If I was trying to ask someone whether they want to come skydiving with me and we were trying to decide which company to go with, we are more likely to vouche our bets on going with a company that advertises 66% safety rather than 34% chance of fatality. Because the way the frame their advertising will put out either a negative or positive effect on our perception of their abilities.

Authority bias

This is when a person is so blinded by admiration or respect for authority that after a point no matter how morally controversial the authority’s claims might be the person still agrees. Or a person is purely swayed by the opinions of authority figures simply because they are authority figures. For example, I have observed conversations where people are so biased towards a political party that they are blind to all the downfalls of that party’s claim. One of the adult family friends is a very big supporter of the BJP party (which is the ruling party in India), and I have noticed that even when anyone points out a flaw of the party he is quick to defend, dismiss or blame that flaw on an external factor. This probably happens to everyone at some point. I think it is good to have people you look up to but if you become too attached to their image, and solely trust them you only expose yourself to one type of perspective which can blind your world view. My dad always tells me to remember that “parents are not always correct” and that if I ever disagreed with them on a decision regarding me, my sister or the family I should voice it out instead of blindly following.

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  1. Nicholas Alchin Reply

    Excellent Aarushi (and sorry for getting confused with the earlier post). You have really made these rather abstract biases come alive with your personal examples – well done.

    These biases are common, and ubiquitous. So we are all prone to them. This means that identifying them, and understanding them, is the best protection against falling into them.

    Good job.

    And you know, you needn’t feel embarrassed in class (as you sometimes seem to be). Your insights are as good as anyones, and while it’s OK to ask to pass on a question, it’s also OK to ‘give it a go’ knowing that your answer is only partial, and incomplete. There are no full and correct answers in teh questions we look at. What you say is at least as good as some who speak with more confidence. Have faith in yourself 🙂 as I see the quality of your work, and it is high 🙂

    • Reply

      Thank you, Mr. Alchin. I think I needed to hear that, I have been a bit insecure about sharing my ideas recently or ‘making a fool of myself’ but your right, there is no harm in giving it a try. Thank you so much for your reassurance 🙂

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