10 Cognitive biases that Shape our world

October 30, 2023

Hey there, curious minds!

Let's dive into the wild world of cognitive biases, shall we? 
You see, these sneaky mental shortcuts shape our thoughts, opinions, attitudes, and decisions more than we'd like to admit. And guess what? We're about to explore ten of these brainy culprits that are rocking our world.

1️⃣ The Availability Heuristic

Ever wonder why tech giants are so eager to customize their offerings for us? Well, here's the scoop. Take Netflix, for instance. They know we're more likely to binge-watch "Money Heist" when it's right there, smack at the top of our recommendations. Convenience wins every time!

2️⃣ The Hindsight Bias

Ever had that "I knew it all along" moment? Yeah, that's hindsight bias playing tricks on your brain. After an event, we suddenly think it was predictable all along. For example, thinking, "Of course, the stock market crashed this year. I saw it coming!" while you didn't sell when you had the chance. Classic!

3️⃣ The Hawthorne Effect

Just as cognitive biases can influence our daily decisions, there's a similar phenomenon in UX research called the Hawthorne Effect. It's like those school days when you behaved differently when the teacher wasn't looking. During a UX study, participants may change their behavior because they know they're being observed, trying to avoid perceived judgment.

To tackle this effect, researchers should strive to blend into the background and encourage participants to act naturally, as if no one is watching. This way, we can gain more genuine insights.

4️⃣ The Halo Effect

You know the saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover?" Well, humans are guilty of doing just that. The Halo Effect makes us believe that one good trait means a person or thing is all-around awesome. If someone's attractive, we might assume they're also smart, successful, and funny. It's like giving extra credit for good looks! 

5️⃣ The Affect Heuristic

Sometimes, our gut feeling calls the shots. The Affect Heuristic makes us snap-judge products or services based on initial feelings. Imagine you've got a groundbreaking app, but people just don't get it. That's the Affect Heuristic at play, making potential users shrug it off. 

6️⃣ Sampling Bias

In the world of cognitive biases, we've seen how our brains can lead us astray. In the realm of UX research, we encounter a different challenge known as Sampling Bias. It's akin to being misled by our cognitive shortcuts. Let's say you're designing an app for people with food intolerances, but your sample selection includes only adult males and teenage females, missing the target population of adult females and teenage males.
 To counter Sampling Bias, it's essential to ensure that your sample accurately represents your target population. Just like being mindful of cognitive biases, addressing Sampling Bias helps create more reliable research outcomes.

7️⃣ The Dunning-Kruger Effect

Ever met someone who thinks they're a genius but lacks the skills to back it up? That's the Dunning-Kruger Effect for you. It also makes experts underestimate themselves, assuming everyone finds their field easy-peasy. And when it comes to driving, overconfidence leads to accidents – not cool!

8️⃣ Interviewer Bias

While discussing biases, it's crucial to acknowledge Interviewer Bias, a common pitfall in UX research. This is somewhat like the overconfidence bias that can skew our judgment. As an interviewer, staying neutral is a skill that needs practice, much like recognizing cognitive biases. Asking leading questions that frame the narrative can influence the interviewee's responses, similar to how our judgments are swayed by our mental shortcuts.

To combat Interviewer Bias, it's essential for interviewers to maintain a neutral demeanor, keeping facial expressions such as nodding or smiling in check during the interview. Just as we strive to spot cognitive biases at work, researchers aim to eliminate Interviewer Bias to ensure unbiased and accurate user feedback. 

9️⃣ The Scarcity Effect

"Limited time only!" You've seen those signs, right? The Scarcity Effect preys on your fear of missing out. When something seems about to vanish, you're more likely to buy it. Ladies, remember that study where you were more interested in a guy when you thought he was taken? Scarcity, my friends!


1️⃣0️⃣ The Anchoring Effect

Ever been lured by a "discounted" item that's still pricier than it should be? That's the Anchoring Effect, tricking your brain into thinking you're getting a steal. Retailers use it to make you think you're saving big, even when you're not.

So, what's the bottom line here, folks? We're all prone to biases, no escape. But once we spot these mental tricks at work, we can start making conscious decisions. Awareness is our superpower! Let's keep our eyes peeled for these sneaky biases and reclaim control over our thoughts and actions. It's time to outsmart the brain games!

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