cognitive bias

A cognitive bias is a bias, that is, it is like a weight applied to one side of a mechanical scale. Our cognitive processes are biased because they have helped us survive as a species. They are built into our brain's architecture and can't be eliminated. They are simply the way we 'compute'.

Imagine a mechanical scale in which one side is heavier than the other — without putting anything on it. The 'weight' or 'bias' is a part of the system, it can't be removed. The best thing we can do is account for them and adjust accordingly (and only when it's useful to do so.) Keeping with the mechanical scale analogy — the best we can do is place an equal weight on the other side to balance out the scale.

One simple example of a cognitive bias is change. The architecture of our nervous system is biased to notice change more than whatever stays the same. This is helpful because it reduces the amount of 'brain power' we have to use to monitor our environment. See habituation.

Cognitive Biases

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Categories: psychology