Psychological Biases

Psychological Biases

The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own - Epictetus

1. Contrast Effect

When two things are compared we heighten their difference. eg. grey next to white looks darker, next to black, its lighter. A tall person seems even taller when next to someone small. A beautiful person is even prettier when surrounded by ugly people.

Use the contrast effect to artificially heighten your own qualities.  Give the illusion that you're a big fish in a small pond.


2. Curse of knowledge

The more you know the harder it is to explain it to people that know nothing.  To them it looks like you’re talking nonsense.

When explaining anything simplify it to the level a 5 year old could understand it (This is what I’m aiming to do.).  If you can explain it to others you’ll look a lot smarter than those, smarter than you, that can’t.


3. Decoy effect

If you wanted popcorn and there was only two options, small and large, theirs a good chance you'd pick small as you're not that hungry.  But once a medium is added spending a little bit more seems like a better deal, even though you don't actually want extra.  This is the decoy effect.

Make yourself a happy medium between easily-achievable and unattainable.  


4. Denomination Effect

We're more likely to spend when we have change that a note of equivalent price (eg. 10 £1 coins vs £10 note).  We don't like breaking notes.  The higher the value, the harder it is to spend.  would you spend a £500 note?

If you want people to spend more money, give them change.  Sell change items - sweets, stickers, origami ect. 


5. Peak End Effect

The length of an experience has little effect on our memory.  What more important is how we feel at the peak and end of the experience.  If we are getting dental treatment and it’s painful for a long time,, but it end’s on a happy note, the overall pain remembered will be far less.

Leave all situations on a happy note.  Good or bad this will boost their enjoyment of the event/you.  


6. Empathy Gap

We find it hard to predict someone else's actions, when our feelings differ eg. you're happy and they're angry. We also struggle to predict how we will act if we where in a different emotional state.

We can combat this by mentally putting ourselves into different states and thinking about how we would act in each state.


7. Endowment Effect

We place more value on things we own. Your hat has more value that the same hat sitting on the store shelf.

Since people place more value on things, hype up the simple things they own and they'll like you more as a result.


8. Conservatism Bias

The conservatism bias refers to our tendency to cling to our poor beliefs or estimates, even in the face of new evidence.  When presented with evidence that contradicts their prior beliefs they will create a story to prove to themselves that they were always right, in regard to their prior beliefs/estimates.

No-one ever walks away from a debate believing they lost and the other persons view is correct.  Instead they taker all the evidence from the other side and dismiss it or construct a narrative that makes it align with their prior beliefs.


9. Functional Fixedness

Functional fixedness is a cognitive bias that refers to the tendency to view an object or tool only in terms of its most common or traditional use, rather than considering other possible uses. This can limit problem-solving ability, as people may be unable to see a solution because they are too focused on the traditional use of an object or tool.

Someone with functional fixedness might be unable to use a spoon as a screwdriver, because they are only thinking of the spoon as a tool for holding food. This can limit their ability to find a solution to a problem that requires a screwdriver.


10. The Law Of The Instrument

The law of the instrument, also known as the "hammer principle," refers to the tendency to rely too heavily on a familiar tool or approach, even when it may not be the most appropriate one for the situation. This bias can lead people to ignore other, potentially better options and limit their ability to solve problems effectively.

A carpenter who only knows how to use a hammer might try to use it to solve every problem, even when a screwdriver would be more appropriate.


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