Recognizing and Resisting Cognitive Biases

Did you know that much of what we decide every day is not a “decision,” but an unconscious reaction—made when our mind makes a quick assumption on our behalf? These little shortcuts save us from deliberating about each piece of information flowing through our minds in every second of the day.

These shortcuts allow mental efficiency by letting small decisions occur quickly and often unnoticed. But, when a shortcut is flawed because of a cognitive bias, it can sometimes distort reality and impact our decision-making.

Recognizing and Resisting Cognitive Biases is one of the four K-12 Learning Domains of Decision Education.

In the Classroom

Through Decision Education, students will identify and practice strategies for recognizing and resisting cognitive biases to bolster awareness of thinking processes.

How this domain comes to life in the classroom

Quick History

The term cognitive bias was first developed in the 1970s by psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, who after years of research found that people often had flawed patterns of thinking and reacting when faced with decisions. Kahneman, following Tversky’s death, went on to write the now globally acclaimed: Thinking, Fast and Slow, which details how cognitive biases impact decision-making.

About Cognitive Biases

Researchers and scientists continue to document the number of cognitive biases that can trip up our decision-making. Some scientists have the number as high as 188. Below, we highlight a few of the most common.

It is important to learn how to identify these biases, and then watch out for them so that they do not negatively impact our decision-making. Keep in mind that you, or others, can be influenced by more than one cognitive bias at a time.

1. Availability Heuristic

2. Representativeness Heuristic

3. Anchoring Effect

4. Confirmation Bias

5. Hindsight Bias

6. Attribution Error

7. Overconfidence Bias

8. Loss Aversion Bias

9. Sunk-Cost Fallacy

10. Framing Effect

11. Blindspot Bias

12. Present Bias

13. Base Rate Neglect

14. Halo Effect

15. Polarized Thinking

16. Bandwagon Effect

17. Gambler’s Fallacy

18. In-Group Bias

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