Visual Guide to Cognitive Biases

Cognitive Biases – A Visual Study Guide

I have embedded a document that lists out a number of cognitive biases that effect our thoughts.  Take a look and see if you identify with any of the biases listed (I suggest you view it in full screen to read the text clearly).

The author’s stated purpose for the document is to create a fun introduction to cognitive biases that would make the different types easier to memorize.  I think he succeeded on the fun introduction part, but I would not suggest trying to memorize the list.

It is just too disorganized.

There are biases listed that are very generic.  For example, the list contains “Self-fulfilling prophecy:  The tendency to engage in behaviors that elicit results which will (consciously or not) confirm existing attitudes.”  And “Cryptomnesia: A form of misattribution where a memory is mistaken for imagination, or the confusion of true memories with false memories.”  Both are very important biases to understand and recognize.  Both can be applied to a number of situations.

But right next to the generic biases, there are very specific ones listed that are not universal at all. Such as, the “Interloper effect / Consulation paradox: The tendency to value third party consultation as objective, confirming, and without motive. Also consultation paradox, the conclusion that solutions proposed by existing personnel within an organization are less likely to receive support than from those recruited for that purpose.” It sounds like this one comes from someone who was angry with their boss for listening to consultants instead of their own employees.

Or the “Experimenter’s or Expectation bias: The tendency for experimenters to believe, certify, and publish data that agree with their expectations for the outcome of an experiment, and to disbelieve, discard, or downgrade the corresponding weightings for data that appear to conflict with those expectations.” Someone did not like an article a researcher published and decided to create a cognitive bias entry because of it.

Both scenarios do have some kind of lapse of rationality associated them, but the root cognitive biases are missing. Once found, they both would fit into other biases already listed.

But to the author’s credit, he makes it clear that this document is a work in progress and that the source of the cognitive biases needs to be cleaned up.  This is the problem with Wikipedia.  Multiple authors attempt to collaborate.  If they do not know what the other authors are trying to achieve, the end product is disjoint.

It is an interesting introduction to the concept of cognitive biases, though.  Regardless of the accuracy of the biases listed, the document focused my attention towards moments in my life when I (or people I knew) fell victim to these type of irrational thoughts.  Anything that does that is good in my book.

Leave a comment