Cognitive Bias: Definition & Examples Video

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  • 0:01 What Is Cognitive Bias?
  • 1:16 Examples
  • 2:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Cognitive biases are errors in thinking that influence how we make decisions. Learn more about cognitive bias from examples, and test your knowledge with a quiz.

What Is Cognitive Bias?

At any given second, the brain is carrying out trillions of mental processes. It's no wonder that our brain is constantly looking for strategies and rules of thumb that can be applied across various situations to ease the burden of executing all those mental processes. These rules are especially helpful when it comes to making decisions and judgments that are complex. In our attempt to simplify information processes, we may take mental shortcuts that lead us down the wrong path. These thinking errors that we make when we are processing information are known as cognitive bias.

Cognitive biases develop for several reasons. For example, errors in memory can affect how you think about a particular event. This, in turn, influences how you think about similar events, which can lead to cognitive bias. It's also thought that cognitive bias helps us process information more quickly. Cognitive biases can cause us to make inaccurate judgments, decisions, and interpretations.

Because we're constantly making judgments and processing information, we are constantly at risk for cognitive bias. At one point or another, we've all been guilty of some type of cognitive bias. Although it's impossible to completely avoid cognitive biases, it is possible to understand what they are so that we can look for them when they arise and adjust our judgments as needed.

Examples of Cognitive Bias

There are several types of cognitive bias. Some examples include the following:

Bandwagon effect: This is the tendency for people to do or think things because other people do or think them. An example is choosing to skip school because all of your friends were also skipping school.

Choice-supportive bias: This is the tendency for people to remember one thing as being better than it actually was. Suppose you had to choose between two houses. You may remember the house that you chose was bigger, had more bathrooms, was cheaper, and had more space. In reality, the two houses may have been the same price and had the same amount of space.

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