Cognitive Biases

In a perfect world we know that we are rational thinkers and we make decisions based completely based upon logic and careful examination of facts. And perhaps this is the skill that gives your market research reports the credibility when you present it to the clients. But of course you know that it’s not true that there are many who let personal biases slip into their arguments and their work but you are a rational person although you let your personal judgement slightly slip into your arguments you always know that you keep most of them in check. If you are such a person then congratulations you have just become a victim of Bias Blind Spot.

With that I welcome you to the myriads of cognitive bias. Cognitive biases is a certain way by which we make judgement and think. It’s the process by which our brains process information, unfortunately they have a way of clouding our judgement. And of course being a market researcher you must look to overcome these to provide a neutral judgement.
Now let’s look at some interesting biases:

1. Choice Supportive Bias:
Have you ever noticed some one brought a new piece of technology, and constantly brags about it and ascertains that it is the best? If not you can find them in the comments of any technology cantered blog’s comment section. This is known as the choice supportive bias. It is the bias that makes an individual to only look and believe in the positive aspects of the product while ignoring the positive aspects of the competing product.

2. Confirmation Bias:
Confirmation bias is the way by which we chose to prefer and favor the information that confirms our hypothesis and downplaying or outright rejecting any evidence to the contrary. This can lead us to have overconfidence on a wrong piece of information just because it aligns with our earlier theories and can make even believe ambiguous sources of data as the rightful truth.

3. Bandwagon Effect:
Probably the most commonly seen one, usually it can be seen in any group related activity. It refers to the thinking by which an individual makes decisions based on what others/peers have decided upon regardless of the contrary evidence. This can severely affect any collective decision making sessions.

4. Halo Effect:
Mostly seen in interviews and other personal evaluation sessions, Halo effect is the bias by which the person’s judgement can be influenced by one’s overall impression of him/her. This means that the assessor’s judgement can boil down to just a few parameters by which the assessor ranks all other traits of the individual.

5. Dunning-Kruger Effect:
Dubbed by Dunning and Kruger who won an IG Nobel Prize in psychology for their study of this bias is pretty interesting. This is basically the cognitive bias that prevents incompetent people to wrongly judge themselves as more competent than the really competent individuals. Dunning and Kruger proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:
  • tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
  • fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
  • fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
  • Recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they are exposed to training for that skill.

Remember these are just the few of 100s of other such named biases, and since these are inherent to us (Read: our brains are lying to us), these may be difficult to find much less remove them, however we still can make an active effort to make sure to acknowledge the other side and try really hard not judge a book by its cover.

Ignorance Forwarded

As a kid I remember seeing a scene where a bad guy tries to kill an old guy who has an epileptic episode, by withholding an iron key chain and preventing everyone in the crowd from aiding the old guy by handing him an iron rod and then the hero comes along punches the bad guy hands over an iron rod to the old guy, old guy gets well crowds cheer roll curtains.

Fast forward to year 2012 during which time I was present in a first aid training seminar. Near the closing of the session the presenters asked the audience to present an account of any personal stories of first aid administration. One participant stood up and recounted his experience of seeing a person in road having seizures and how he and some onlookers helped the suffering man by holding his legs and arms and how he thrust an iron key chain into the fists of that individual and generally saving the guy. The presenter after applauding the participants concern to help a fellow man in distress; explained why everything he did was wrong. And his actions actually could have adversely affected the person.  If you read the above links you will know that the first action is to stay calm, allowing the suffering individual to move freely and clearing out any objects near the suffering person so as to prevent them from injuring themselves. You might notice that the participant did the exact opposite and remembering my earlier movie scene , the bad guy was the good guy who made every effort to keep the suffering old guy away from any objects or being held down by the crowd and his good deed got rewarded in form of a punch and kick from the hero.

The reason I have taken this particular example is because it tells us how sometimes following false or half information can not only be less effective but actually do you more harm. Let’s take another case of this so called Cough CPR that circulates through emails and Facebook posts which if you dig deeper (a simple Google search) will bring up results that will teach you never to take advice from email or a post. Of course there are tons  of  other myths spreading through the internet. And then there is a different category where mainstream media spreads false stories like this one about a man who sued axe for not feeling the “AXE” effect and not attracting any women which also appeared in a number mainstream dailies and tabloids. Of course a Google search will show that the source of the news is a site that is called “Faking News”.

Part of the reason of such false news spreading is their general tendency to invoke our feelings and thus make us to immediately forward such stories. Their inherent qualities invoke fear, amusement, anger and spreading them in a viral way will only hasten such things. So the next time you see a story, and want to spread just Google it (trust me it won’t take five minutes).

So to conclude, No you’ll not get free cash by sharing a post and facebook will not donate money when you share a picture.


Top 40 Lessons for Business + Life


Best lessons for Business + Life.

  1. Work Hard and Work Smart.

  2. Don’t do it if you’re not having fun.

  3. If you’re not scared a lot you’re not growing very much.

  4. When no one else believes in your vision, you absolutely must stay true to your vision. (Have the guts to stay in the game far longer than makes any sense).

  5. The quickest way to build a superb business is to quickly develop the leadership potential of every teammate.

  6. A job is only a job if you choose to see your work as a job. All work is a noble sport. (The reality is all work is a chance to express your genius–and to inspire the world).

  7. Exercising for 20 minutes first thing in the morning is a game-changer.

  8. If you’re not innovating daily, you’re on the path to obsolescence.

  9. If you want an A-Level company, you can’t afford to hire B-Level players.

  10. Give your customers 10X the value they expect and they’ll tell everyone they know about you.

  11. Invest the time to create great social media content and your base will go global + viral.

  12. It’s never been easier to be of service to a large amount of people (and few things are as rewarding).

  13. People are craving transparency+authenticity and community. Give it to them.

  14. Creativity comes in seasons. There’s a time to harvest your ideas. And there’s a time to let the field sit fallow. (I’ve been working on integrating this lesson for years).

  15. Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax (When you relax, your brain shifts into alpha state–the time when million-dollar ideas present themselves).

  16. Change is hard at the beginning, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end. (And without change, there is no progress).

  17. Someone’s going to win in your space. Why not you?

  18. Pursue excellence versus chasing perfection.

  19. Celebrate small wins and you’ll unleash a huge amount of momentum and positive energy.

  20. Learn for an hour a day, no matter what. That’s not a waste of work time. It’s a brilliant use of your work time because you’re paid to know more than anyone who has ever done your job.

  21. Why go for good at what you do when you can stand for iconic?

  22. Transform your fitness and you’ll transform your business.

  23. Delete victimspeak from your languaging. No more “I can’t” and “It’s not possible” and “It’s so hard.” More “I will” and “This is awesome” and “What’s the opportunity here?”

  24. If you inspire one person each day, you’re day hasn’t been a waste. It’s been a blessing.

  25. Living in the past is disrespecting your future.

  26. Build an amazing career but enjoy your lifestyle along the way. What’s the point of becoming a business legend but a failed human being.

  27. Look people in the eyes when you talk to them. Smile at people when you see them. Say “please” to respect them. And “thank you” to appreciate them.

  28. Don’t be on time–Be early.

  29. The person who tries to do everything achieves nothing. Focus. Focus. Focus.

  30. Goal-setting is mission-critical. (Review your Big 5, quarterly goals and daily goals constantly).

  31. To have the results only 5% of businesspeople have, have the guts to do what only 5% of businesspeople are willing to do.

  32. World-class begins when you think you’ve done a great job but know you can do a better job.

  33. Remember that your greatest gift is so much stronger than your deepest fear.

  34. Everyone’s in Human Resources. And we are all paid to develop the talents of the people we work with.

  35. Mediocrity is a mindset. Avoid the mental viruses of negative people.

  36. Be the most honest person you know. It generally takes 30 years to build a fantastic reputation. And 30 seconds to lose it by a single silly move.

  37. Become a lion–not a sheep.

  38. The more devoted you become to serving others, the more your career begins to build itself.

  39. Problems come to test your commitment to your goals, hopes and dreams.

  40. As you become more successful, get more hungry.

Moral Stories and Lessons for Business Life

Lesson 1:
A sales rep, an administration clerk, and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie comes out. The Genie says, “I’ll give each of you just one wish” “Me first! Me first!” says the administration clerk. “I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.” Poof! She’s gone. “Me next! Me next!” says the sales rep. “I want to be in Hawaii,relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas and the love of my life.” Poof! He’s gone. “OK, you’re up,” the Genie says to the manager. The manager says, “I want those two back in the office after lunch.”

Moral of the story: Always let your boss have the first say.

Lesson 2:
A crow was sitting on a tree, doing nothing all day. A rabbit asked him,”Can I also sit like you and do nothing all day long?” The crow answered: “Sure, why not.” So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the crow, and rested.

…A fox jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Moral of the story: To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very high up.

Lesson 3: Power of Charisma
A turkey was chatting with a bull “I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree,” sighed the turkey, but I haven’t got the energy.” “Well, why don’t you nibble on my droppings?” replied the bull. “They’re packed with nutrients.” The turkey pecked at a lump of dung and found that it gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night, there he was proudly perched at the top of the tree. Soon he was spotted by a farmer, who shot the turkey out of the tree.

Moral of the story: Bullshit might get you to the top, but it wont keep you there.
Lesson 4:
A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground into a large field. While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was. The dung was actually thawing him out! He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy. A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.

Moral of the story:
1. Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy
2. Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend
3. And when you’re in deep shit, it’s best to keep your mouth shut !