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Rosy retrospection

This phenomenon refers to our tendency to disproportionately judge the past more positively than the present. Rosy retrospection is therefore very closely related to the concept of nostalgia.

Authority bias

This bias refers to our tendency to regard the opinions and instructions of an authority figure as highly influential, therefore we are more  inclined to follow these instructions. This is why TV commercials use doctors to appeal to the persuasive potential of an authority figure.

In-group favoritism or in-group–out-group bias

This bias describes a pattern of favoring members of one’s in-group over out-group members. This can be expressed in evaluation of others, hiring processes….a practical example would be that men tend to hire other men over women.

Confirmation bias

This bias explains the tendency to search for favor, and interpret information in a way that it affirms our existing beliefs and opinions. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect tends to be stronger if we already have a desired outcome in mind, or for emotionally charged issues and beliefs.

Bandwagon effect

This is a phenomenon whereby the rate of uptake of beliefs, opinions, and ideas increases the more that they have already been adopted by others. In other words, if we come to the belief that a certain opinion is very popular, we tend to join in on this opinion so as to be part of the “winning team”. This phenomenon can for instance be helpful to political parties or candidates in an election race.

Negativity bias

This effect describes the notion that, even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature have a greater effect on our psychological state and memory than neutral or positive things. For instance, if we receive twenty compliments and one harsh critique about an assignment, the critical remark will stick more to our memory and affect our mood and actions to a higher extent than the compliments. 

Hostile media effect

This effect refers to the tendency of individuals with a strong preexisting attitude on an issue to perceive media coverage as biased against their own views and in favor of their antagonists’ point of view. For instance, both republicans and democrats tend to describe the mainstream media biased against their opinions.

Picture superiority effect

Pictures and images are often more likely to be remembered than words and can help make an information memorable. The effect is explained by human memory being extremely sensitive to the symbolic modality of presentation. Yet, explanations for the picture superiority effect are still being debated.

Humor effect

This effect causes people to remember information better when they perceive the information as humorous. For example, a teacher could use the humor effect to help students learn a certain concept, by illustrating this concept using a funny story

Sleeper effect or source amnesia

This effect describes the inability to remember where, when or how previously learned information has been acquired, while retaining the factual knowledge. For instance, a message information sticks to our memory but we forget where we retrieved this information. This way fake news, exaggerated numbers etc. might stick in our memory and we “forget” to be critical about them, as we have forgotten about the reliability of the source.

Cognitive biases are a collective term for human biases in perception, memory, thinking and judgments.
Although cognitive biases mostly remain on the unconscious level, they are systematic distortions.
No one can free themselves from being subject to cognitive biases. On the contrary, cognitive biases are a part of our day-to-day life and they can be very useful because they help us to quickly retrieve information, deal with excess information, structure our perceptions and help us make a decision. But it is necessary to be aware of these biases in order to understand and critically question our own actions, memories and decision-making processes.