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Cognitive Bias: Examples To Understand Them

The human mind is a mystery, despite numerous studies on how the brain reacts, acts, and performs, we really don't know everything about it. We are wired to produce our best at all times, as marketers especially the ones who rely on creativity know that our minds can switch off in certain situations, but they can do the opposite in situations you don't expect it.

Our minds are complicated, and a lot of creativity is blocked by these complex forces known as "cognitive biases", these are tricks our minds play as we work through the projects that matter most to us.

In order to excel in marketing, one must completely understand the complexity of these biases, each one of them plays a significant role in the consumer's decision-making process. In order to sell your product well, you need to understand your consumer, but its difficult to do this without understanding what stops the customer from purchasing in the first place

Before we step into cognitive bias vs creativity, we must know these mind tricks.

What is Cognitive bias?

Cognitive bias is a limitation in objective thinking that is caused by the tendency for the human brain to perceive information through a filter of personal experience and preferences.

The filtering process is called heuristics; it’s a coping mechanism that allows the brain to prioritize and process the vast amount of input it receives each second. While the mechanism is very effective, its limitations can cause errors that can be exploited.

Cognitive bias

"In simple words, it's a tendency for the human brain to filter and alter conclusions based on the beliefs and experiences."

Why Is Cognitive Bias Important To Know?

Cognitive biases are important to know because they can influence our thinking and decision-making in ways that may lead us to make judgments that are not rational or accurate.

Understanding the most common cognitive biases, such as confirmation bias, availability heuristics, and sunk cost fallacy can help us to recognize when they may be affecting our thinking so that we can take steps to counteract their influence and make more sound judgments and decisions. Additionally, these biases can also impact work performance and communication.

Moreover, in fields such as data analysis, finance, psychology, marketing, and politics, professionals make decisions and predictions based on data or human behavior. Understanding cognitive bias allows professionals to be aware of their potential to lead them astray and help them to make a more accurate assessment of the situation.

How To Identify Cognitive Biases?

A cognitive bias is important to know because it can help individuals and organizations make better judgments, decisions, and predictions.

There are several ways to identify cognitive biases:

  1. Self-reflection: One of the most effective ways to identify cognitive biases is to be aware of them and to practice self-reflection. By taking the time to reflect on your thoughts, beliefs, and actions, you can begin to identify patterns and habits that may be influenced by cognitive biases.

  2. Seek feedback: Another way to identify cognitive biases is to seek feedback from others. Often times, other people can provide valuable insights into our own thinking and help us to identify biases that we may not be aware of.

  3. Learn about cognitive biases: Education on cognitive bias and common cognitive biases is a key step in identifying them. Understanding the most common cognitive biases, such as confirmation bias, availability heuristic, and sunk cost fallacy, can help you recognize when they may be affecting your thinking.

  4. Consult experts: If you suspect that cognitive biases may be affecting your decision-making or performance, you may want to consult with experts in the field of cognitive psychology or behavioral economics to help you identify and overcome them.

Identifying cognitive biases is not a one-time activity but rather an ongoing process that requires constant self-awareness and effort. Be open to the idea of having bias, it is a natural human tendency and it's OK. Practice being more aware of your own decision-making process, question assumptions, and consider alternative perspectives.

In the article ahead, I’ll give you a few cognitive biases that affect our creative productivity and prevent our best work from happening if we fall into their trap.

Cognitive bias
It's not easy to identify cognitive biases but once you do it makes decision making easier

1. Sunk cost effect:

The tendency for the brain to continue investing in something that clearly isn’t working in order to avoid failure.

This is a trap for marketers. Let's imagine you want to advertise on social media and decide to spend money on it. The sunk cost effect is a dangerous cognitive bias, it tricks you into believing that investing money in the advertisement is a good idea even if the strategy hasn't yielded the best results before.

The Truth: Your decisions are driven by the emotional investments you accumulate, and the more you invest in something, the harder it becomes to abandon it.

2. Survivorship bias:

On principle, the survivorship bias is very similar to the Ostrich effect. The tendency for the brain to focus on positive outcomes in favor of negative ones.

We are biased, our judgments are often clouded by a bias, and sometimes it is very hard to let go of these beliefs.

This bias is among the most interesting ones to understand because our judgments in this case is often misguided. For instance, when you search on Google regarding entrepreneurs, you see Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, etc, we see how a lot of them are college drop-outs.

As simple as those options might seem when we search on Google, we completely ignore the fact that for as many people who did that and succeeded, there are just as many who did that and failed.

The truth: The problem with falling prey to survivorship data is that it clouds your judgment and distracts you from getting to the root cause of a problem within your personal life, your team, or your product. It makes it easy to pattern-match and conflate correlation with causation.

3. Recency Bias:

(As a student, this bias is so true it's funny when you read about it.) Recency bias is the tendency for the brain to subconsciously place more value on the last information it received about a topic.

If you are a marketer and your product has a bad product review from few customers among a hundred positive reviews, there is a chance that all the positive reviews may not have as much effect as the negative ones could have if the negative ones are the most recent ones. Some might believe that the product "used" to be good.

The truth: If you desire to improve employee productivity in your company, then you must focus on past errors than recent ones.

Once we can recognize the cognitive biases that exist in our work, we can fix them. We need to focus on our audience and bring them the tools (or entertainment) they need to make their own lives better. As a marketer, that's the best we can do, "help the audience make better decisions".

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