Cognitive Biases affecting our social life and relationships

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Cognitive Biases affecting our social life and relationships

“Bias” can not only ruin the relations between inputs and output in your Machine Learning models but also the relations between you and the people around you. Cognitive biases are genuine deficiencies or limitation in our thinking and judgement arising from problems with memory, attention, social attribution, miscalculations and other mental mistakes. There can be deadly combinations of those and one can fuel others like Bootstrapping in ML algorithms. Those things make it hard to deal with people, making life complicated. The world makes more sense if we know about them. Following is a list of Biases which affect social interactions and relationships the most:

Negativity Bias: 

People give around 3X more weight to negative experiences and emotions as compared to positive ones so our mistakes and bad experiences related to us can easily overshadow the good experiences and deeds.

Confirmation Bias:

People have the tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information in a way that confirms their preexisting beliefs, so suspicions and bad first impressions can easily be turned into wrong beliefs by even tiny amounts of weak future evidence supporting them.

Correspondence Bias:

Correspondence Bias aka Fundamental Attribution Error is the tendency to attribute situational behaviour to a person’s fixed personality. There can be a lot of extra factors related to a particular situation for someone affecting their behaviour but we are very likely to think that they did that because “he/she is like that”.

Egocentric Bias and Self-Serving Bias:

Egocentric Bias suggests that people have the tendency to rely too heavily on their own perspective and/or have a higher opinion of themselves than reality merits due to having too much information about herself and not others. Self-Serving Bias means that individuals tend to ascribe success to their own abilities and efforts, but ascribe failure to external factors in order to maintain high self-esteem. They result in being stubborn and egoistic and having a belief that we know better and we are always right.

Congruence Bias:

People tend to jump to conclusions by direct testing and don’t realize the fact that there can alternate hypothesis, so they don’t think about alternate explanations or justifications when assuming negative things.

Halo Effect and Horn Effect:

Halo Effect means that the impression of a person, especially in terms of attractiveness influences how we feel and think about his or her character. People feel that what or who is “beautiful is good” and preassume a lot of good qualities by just an impression that “He is nice!”. Horn Effect is it’s opposite and results in a bad impression especially looks associating many negative qualities.

Recency Bias:

It means that we give greater importance to memories and experiences that have happened recently over past experiences and memories from further in the past. People tend to heavily weigh their judgments toward more recent information. So the mistakes and shortcomings of our current can overshadow our good behaviour and deeds in the past

Attentional Bias and Saliency Bias:

Attentional bias is the tendency for people’s perception to be affected by their recurring thoughts at the time. Specific thoughts and information can guide the current train of thought in a certain manner and we ignore everything else during that time. The salience bias refers to the fact that individuals are more likely to focus on information that is more prominent while ignoring the information which is less so. They can lead to misjudgements and bad impulsive decisions.

Choice-Supportive Bias and Endowment Effect:

Choice-Supportive Bias aka Post-Purchase Rationalization is the tendency to assign positive attributes to an option one has selected. Our mind tries to justify our choice of a thing or a person after choosing, and we try to amplify its qualities and de-emphasize the alternatives. Endowment Effect is the fact that people often demand much more to give up an object than they would be willing to pay to acquire it. We are loss-averse and give great importance to losing something we have. They can result in denial and sticking to the wrong people.

Empathy Gap and Curse of Knowledge:

Empathy Gap suggests that human understanding is state-dependent so we have trouble imagining how we would feel in other people’s shoes so we fail to understand other’s feelings and point of view. It’s not just about others. It makes us unable to understand our past behaviour or predict future behaviour, in a different state of mind. The Curse of Knowledge occurs when an individual, communicating with other individuals, unknowingly assumes that the others have the background to understand. We fail to understand and realize that not everyone can understand where we’re coming from.

Observational Selection Bias:

It is like having a Filter to our observational inputs that gives great importance to observations that support our initial conclusion or what we want to believe in while rejecting evidence against it. It can also make us think that the frequency of something has increased just because we start noticing it. It can result in misjudgements.

Affect heuristic:

We have the tendency to base our decisions on our current emotion. We make emotional, hasty and often irrational decisions because it is a mental shortcut/heuristic that makes us our brain take decisions quickly.

Consistency Bias:

It is about Incorrectly remembering one’s past attitudes and behaviour as resembling present attitudes and behaviour. We believe that our feelings and actions are consistent and we fail to notice the changes in them. Others may think and say that you have changed but you probably won’t believe that and often find it hard to understand your new self.

Ideometer Effect:

It refers to the fact that our thoughts can make us feel real emotions. We may be just thinking of imaginary scenarios and creating emotions for ourself.

Projection Bias and False Consensus Effect:

We think that others have the same priority, attitude or belief that we harbour ourself. People overestimate how much other people agree with them and think that their behaviour is normal and typical. It also makes it consider other’s perspective wrong when we find out others don’t actually agree.


Stereotyping is the famous phenomena of having an over-generalized belief about a particular category of people. Stereotypes are generalized because one assumes that the stereotype is true for each individual person in the category. A lot of things can be associated with people without actually getting to know them due to a particular stereotype.

Anchoring Bias and Conservatism Bias:

Anchoring Bias suggests that when people are trying to make a decision, they often use an anchor or focal point as a reference or starting point. We have the tendency to rely too heavily on the very first piece of information we learn. Conservatism Bias refers to our tendency to revise our belief insufficiently when presented with new evidence. It makes us stubborn and rigid.

Availability Heuristic:

It is a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to our minds when evaluating a specific topic, concept, method or decision. We think that if something can be recalled then it must be important. So what is recalled from people’s memory at an instance of what they currently know, dictates their decisions and judgements and it might be bad memories and examples.

Misinformation Bias:

Our memories of particular events also tend to be heavily influenced by post-event information and things that happened after the actual event itself.

Even relatively subtle information following an event can have a dramatic effect on how people remember leading to false memories about the event. The questions asked and comments made by others makes us think of what happened in a different way, affecting our judgements.

Blind Spot Bias:

It is the cognitive bias of recognizing the impact of biases on the judgment of others while failing to see the impact of biases on one’s own judgment. If you don’t agree with the biases I mentioned then you might have it :p and I might have used a little bit of correspondence, availability, choice-supportive, attentional and observation selectional biases while writing about the Biases :p


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