An alphabetical list of cognitive biases. Consider it your campaign and communication shopping list!
When there is little information, a decision can be based around the cost of being wrong. The brain has evolved to reason adaptively, in an attempt to reduce the cost of cognitive errors, rather than the number.
A decision making shortcut that relies on emotion over logic.
This is the likelihood of choosing a known risk over an unknown risk.
An anchor is a piece of information that precedes a decision and acts as a starting point for the decision, even if the first piece of information is incorrect, illogical or unconnected.
The tendency to give greater importance to the opinions or statements of those in authority, irrespective of their knowledge, skill or true authority.
When creating a mental projection, people will use things that more easily come to mind, this is often the vivid, emotional or unusual stuff.
The tendency to disregard the 'base' information and instead focus on smaller more specific information.
A well-known term. This is being selective in the information that you choose. Often the best features and ignoring the rest.
When given a challenging selection of choice, it becomes very hard to make any decision at all. Here a short-cut decision is likely to be made.
Overestimating the importance of small patterns in large samples of random data.
The state of inconsistent thoughts, beliefs or attitudes, beyond your present knowledge.
Interpreting information in a way that confirms your preconceptions.
The assumption that specific conditions are more likely than general ones.
The change of perception in relation to contrasting objects.
The idea that because a communication strategy costs a lot of money (heavy weighted envelopes, large street ads...), it may increase the potential for the messaging to be a success as there is an assumption that only really good things are worth that amount. The cost can also be in time or energy/effort.
Choice paralysis; when given the choice, people favour the default option.
The tendency to attribute a higher value to something that has or will take more effort than the truer value of the effort afforded.
Considering something to be your own leads to the tendency to create a higher worth for it than you'd give it if you didn't own it.
This is the propensity to avoid making what could be deemed an extreme choice as this would be of higher risk to your social credentials or safety.
The tendency to overestimate how much other people agree with them.
Fear of Regret
What it says on the tin, the fear of regretting a decision.
The tendency to propose a high accuracy to vague descriptions of 'them', that could, in fact, describe anyone. This is the basis of fortune telling and personality tests.
Using the context of information in a way as to create new meaning.
Fundamental Attribution Error
The tendency to overemphasise internal factors, such as personality, taste, emotional status for the reason behind a decision or action, rather than external factors that may indeed have a much greater impact on the decision or action.
Ever got stuck on a roulette machine, thinking about your chances of winning next time around? This is the belief that past events have an influence on future probabilities.
The desire for harmony in a group, which leads to dysfunctional decision making.
The knock-on of one positive impression to another potentially unconnected piece of information.
The Hawthorne Effect / Observer Effect
People act differently when they are being watched. This can obscure test results and experiments. If you want to remove this effect (as best as possible) set up the research as a field or natural experiment.
You can have one sweet now, or the whole bag in 3 months. What do you choose? This is the tendency to prefer immediate payoffs relative to later payoffs.
Attaching a higher value to things you have made.
Illusion of Attention
People falsely believe that they are taking in everything that happens in front of them, rather than just the information they are focusing on.
Illusion of Control
The overestimation of your control over external factors.
Illusion of Skill
Overestimating skill over chance.
Seeing a correlation between two unconnected pieces of information.
Overestimating your positive attributes and underestimating your less desirable qualities relative to other people. "I know I'm grumpy, but they're much more grumpy than me..." (says the grumpiest person you know)
Perceiving universal 'truths' from individual observations.
In-Group Out-Group Bias
Favouring members of your own 'group' over members of other 'groups'. The definition of the group can be very arbitrary.
The illusion that you have insight into your own mental states when this is often not true, and treating others introspections with scepticism.
Being more susceptible to the ideas of someone you like.
The pain of giving up an object is greater than the joy of acquiring it.
Being biased towards data due it being measurable, rather than it truly being of use. Just because it can be measured doesn't make it useful information. Of course, the opposite is also true.
Outside awards or motivations such as money or punishments can undermine intrinsic motivations.
Neglect of Probability
Disregarding probability when making an uncertain decision.
To be obsessed with the new.
An aversion to things or information that stems from a place considered 'other'.
Judging decisions on the outcome of the decision, rather than the depth and quality of the decision making process.
The tendency to perceive an experience by an average of its climax, rather than on the whole.
The underestimation on how long tasks may take to complete.
Primacy and Recency Effects
In a long list of items, the things at the beginning and end are likely to be remembered most vividly
The Query Effect
People are able to make up an opinion about anything when asked. It doesn't mean that their answer will truly represent their actions, intentions or decision-making processes. This can be the source of useless insight.
Feeling obliged to reciprocate.
Judgements that are based on similar issues that are considered known quantities.
How something stands out from its 'peers'.
The assumption that anything scarce is valuable.
The tendency stake more of a claim to successes than failures.
Social Proof/ Herd Instinct
Baa! This is the tendency to follow the crowd.
The power of a narrative to elevate information.
Giving the status of truth to something that is really belief-based thought, this can give meaning to unrelated or coincidental occurrences.
Sunk Cost Fallacy
In investment terms, people tend to justify further investment into something based on having already invested (even though this original investment may have been wrong). In for a penny, in for a pound!
This is where-
This is where interrupted or incomplete tasks can be better-
This is where interrupted or incomplete tasks can be better remembered than complete ones, potentially as the status of being incomplete causes tension.
It's a big list, I know. But really, this is just for reference when thinking about the different biases and choice making systems that you might try and tap in to or utilise for your communication advantage.