50 Cognitive Biases

We often do not realize that we are subject to unconscious biases,
that affect our judgment and behavior.

Here you will find Cards describing 50 most often Cognitive Biases with examples of specific situations. 

Cards can be downloaded and used freely.

According to Wikipedia, all the Cognitive Biases described so far are 188.
Here you will find the 50 most common.

One of my favorites is the Dunning-Kruger Effect. It can be summed up in one neat sentence: 
Ignorance is a blessed state. 
(because if you don't know that you don't know something, then you don't worry and you don't stress)
You will find it below on Card No. 17.

One of the most common in the corporate world is the "Curse of Knowledge", which is the cause of many misunderstandings in communication (Card No. 9). As well as a Cognitive Bias called "Groupthink" (Card 5).

Unfortunately, the latter is often displayed by the so-called management teams.

And in everyday life, the most common thing that affects each of us is a Cognitive Bias called "Naive Realism"
(Card No. 14). This is a very strong source of misunderstanding disputes and conflicts.

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If you have reached this place, I have a special gift for you related to Cognitive Biases.

At the link below you will find what I think is the most complete Library of Cognitive Biases.
shown on one infographic:

And if you are strongly interested not only in the topic of Cognitive Biases but also in topics such as:

Critical Thinking,
The Fallacies of Logical Thinking,
Creative Thinking,
Brainstorming.

At the link below you will find very attractive cards, posters, and visualizations, available in both

electronic and physical form.
And among them, you will find a free poster with 24 Cognitive Biases as well as interactive libraries 
for both Cognitive Biases and Fallacies of Logical Thinking:

Below is a list of five specific tips on identifying and correcting your cognitive bias.

They can be beneficial especially if you are a team leader at work.

How to identify and correct cognitive bias?

1. Accept that you may have prejudices. And then be mindful.

The truth is that we all have unconscious biases or make cognitive biases. This is due to the culture in which we were born and brought up, for example. So you need to start by accepting this fact, then carefully track down your unconscious biases and work to change them.

 

Paying attention to your thoughts and verifying your beliefs can help you identify the assumptions you are currently relying on. For example:

 

  • do you believe people will always talk when they disagree?

  • do you think showing emotions - like crying at work - is a sign of weakness?

  • what do you automatically think of a person who misses a deadline?

  • what do you think about your teammates who are usually quiet in meetings?

 

The key is to pause for a moment and examine your beliefs so that you can see the other person as they really are. Especially in the work environment these days, it may not be easy. Because we have times focused on results and rushing with incredible speed. As a leader, you may easily think you don't have time to play like this. However, spending a few minutes asking yourself questions can make a huge difference to you and your team. At the last point of this list, you'll find very specific questions that you should practice asking regularly. In this way, you will actually build a completely new, invaluable competence that will save you from many mistakes in the future.

2. Be open to other opinions, accept disagreement, even conflict.

Wanting affirmation is human, especially when you are a leader. But one of the important tasks of a leader is to look at how your behaviors, actions, and words affect your team. So, to avoid automatic cognitive biases, start practicing openness to disagreement, but not only declaratively - truthfully. And start practicing this attitude in small steps.

 

You can, for example, start with an honest conversation with a person with whom he usually "sparks". In order to understand how she perceives you and what you might start doing differently (God forbid, not to argue with her and prove that she is wrong).

One of the very common cases of a large and unarticulated misunderstanding between a leader and a subordinate is when the subordinate feels micromanaged and thus his experience and autonomy are diminished, and you think that you are helping him overcome challenges and supporting him.

You can read more about it in the dedicated Manager as a Coach section.

3. Let others question your assumptions.

Our view of ourselves is made up of our life experiences and the lessons we learn along the way. We usually develop unconscious biases and fall into the trap of cognitive bias as a result of what we have been taught and the observations we have made during our childhood and adolescence - at home, at school, in conversations with friends, and through the media. The most hidden and enduring beliefs are usually the result of the suffering we have experienced.

 

When someone questions these long-held beliefs, we may find it inconvenient and even dangerous. So at first, there will be resistance. As someone wisely said:

 

"Most people don't want the truth. They just want confirmation that the illusion they live is true."

 

Instead of being defensive, pay attention to your immediate reaction. Before acting, take a deep breath and try to change your attitude. Approach the situation with curiosity and positive intention. For example, as you approach an experiment that might answer the question: What if ...

 

Your previous cognitive biases do not have to be dead ends. Each confrontation is an opportunity to bend a new path and if you are a leader, an opportunity to improve your leadership. As a leader, you decide what kind of atmosphere you create around you. And by being authentic and open to other points of view, you will naturally create a space for others to behave like this. Otherwise, you may still be under the (mis) belief (aka cognitive bias) that if no one is questioning your opinion out loud, that is, everyone agrees!

4. Adopt different perspectives.

With people whose worldview is different from yours, it is worth not only exchanging feedback but also regularly interacting and trying to build meaningful relationships. It is often the case that two strong personalities, who fight each other at first like worst enemies, later become best friends.

But even if you engage in debates with people of different viewpoints, the experience will broaden your thinking and encourage you to be a more inclusive (and creative) person. What is more, such debates will teach you how to talk to people with a different worldview, how to reach them, and how to skillfully convince them to be right. This is another invaluable skill. Especially in today's business world.

 

I also encourage you to take a critical look at your network of contacts. Aren't most of these people "just like you"? If you work in an international environment, how big is the representation of, for example, Asia, South America or Africa in your network? It is also worth considering when you last read a book other than any other book.

 

Learning to adopt different perspectives may seem difficult at first, but the conscious effort will help. Change - any kind - is inconvenient. The most important thing you can do as a leader is to prepare for this discomfort. Each phase of your leadership journey will require you to dedicate time to introspection in order to emerge from this phase as a more self-aware person.

5. Start practicing self-coaching on a regular basis.

On our blog, you will find a series of articles on self-coaching. This method of personal development can be very useful for more mature and experienced people. And extremely effective in identifying and correcting your own cognitive biases.

 

And if you don't have time to read a series of articles (sic!), Here is a list of some examples of questions you can work with:

  • What are my most fundamental beliefs?

  • How can these beliefs limit or enable me and my colleagues to work?

  • How do I react to people from all walks of life? Do I stick to stereotypes or assumptions about a particular social group?

  • As a manager, how much do I recognize and take advantage of the differences in my team?

  • How would my team describe my leadership style if they shared their experiences with me?

  • How much do my words and actions reflect my intentions?

  • How often do I put myself in the shoes of the other person and try to understand the reasons for her point of view?

 

And if you're ready to learn more about what your colleagues or other people at work really think about you, here are some examples of phrases you can use:

  • What one thing that I do would you mention as making us drift apart?
     

  • Thank you. I didn't realize it. I work on myself and understand that we all have unconscious biases or make cognitive biases. What else can you share with me about the impact of my actions?
     

  • I really appreciate you sharing this with me. What else did you notice that I should know?
     

  • I didn't think about it that way until you shared your views. Could you say more?