Cognitive biases checklist
Duration: 5-20 minutes
Could your important decision (or your avoidance to make an important decision) be affected by a cognitive bias? Check the list below for a reminder of some often-encountered biases and some ways to deal with them.
This recap / checklist / cheat sheet is mainly drawn for the participants at my courses (hello!) and builds upon concepts, examples, cases, and tools discussed during the course. But, obviously, anyone can use it. Have fun!
Loss aversion – we hate to lose more than we like to gain.
Dangers: It prevents us from taking risky decisions or from marking a loss.
What to do: Frame the other option as a loss. Ask yourself whether you would make the opposite trade.
Scarcity – we like the things that are in short supply.
Dangers: It may lead us to choose things we don’t really want.
What to do: Sleep on it.
Status quo – we have a preference for how things currently are.
Dangers: We will stay in bad situations.
What to do: Ask yourself whether you will actively choose this situation if you weren’t in it.
Sunk cost – we don’t stop a losing project because we have invested a lot in it already (time, energy, passion, money, attention)
Dangers: We continue bad projects and we throw good resources after bad.
What to do: Be future-facing instead of past-facing. Take the outsider test: How would you evaluate this situation if it wasn’t yours? Fight fear of failure and of admitting failure.
Confirmation bias – we look only for evidence to confirms our beliefs.
Dangers: We do not make informed decisions.
What to do: Actively look for evidence to contradict what you believe.
Paradox of choice – we have a hard time choosing from a larger set of options.
Dangers: We abandon a choice if the shortlist is not short.
What to do: Make the shortlist short.
Blind spot bias – after we learn about biases, we see them all around us. But just in others.
Dangers: We ignore our own biases.
What to do: Ask advice from knowledgeable people you trust. And read this cheat sheet again J.
© Radu Atanasiu