Why do we focus on one characteristic to compare when choosing between alternatives?

What is the take-the-best heuristic?

The take-the-best heuristic is a shortcut we use when making decisions between alternatives, so that we can quickly make decisions without having to know all the information about each alternative.

When we employ the take-the-best heuristic, we decide based on only one cue or characteristic which we think differentiates the options.1 Instead of considering all the reasons why we might choose one alternative over the other, we pick one reason and base our decision solely on that reason.2

Why is negotiation so difficult?

What is Reactive devaluation?

Reactive devaluation refers to our tendency to disparage proposals made by another party, especially if this party is viewed as negative or antagonistic. This cognitive bias can serve as a major barrier in negotiations.

Why is our confidence disproportionate to the difficulty of a task?

What is the hard-easy effect?

The hard-easy effect, also known as the discriminability effect or the difficulty effect, occurs when we incorrectly predict our ability to complete tasks depending on their level of difficulty. It suggests that we are overly confident in how successful we will be at hard tasks and under-confident about how successful we will be at easy ones. 

Why do we take mental shortcuts?

What are Heuristics?

Heuristics are mental shortcuts that can facilitate problem-solving and probability judgments. These strategies are generalizations, or rules-of-thumb, reduce cognitive load, and can be effective for making immediate judgments, however, they often result in irrational or inaccurate conclusions.

Why do we focus on trivial things?

What is Bikeshedding?

Bikeshedding, also known as Parkinson’s law of triviality, describes our tendency to devote a disproportionate amount of our time to menial and trivial matters while leaving important matters unattended.

Why are we likely to continue with an investment even if it would be rational to give it up?

What is the Sunk Cost Fallacy?

The Sunk Cost Fallacy describes our tendency to follow through on an endeavor if we have already invested time, effort, or money into it, whether or not the current costs outweigh the benefits.

Sunk Cost Fallacy

Why do we prefer doing something to doing nothing?

What is the Action Bias?

The action bias describes our tendency to favor action over inaction, often to our benefit. However, there are times when we feel compelled to act, even if there’s no evidence that it will lead to a better outcome than doing nothing would. Our tendency to respond with action as a default, automatic reaction, even without solid rationale to support it, has been termed the action bias.

Action Bias

Why we believe we have more control over the world than we actually do

What is the Illusion of Control?

The illusion of control describes how we believe we have greater control over events than we actually do. Even when something is a matter of random chance, we often feel like we’re able to influence it in some way.

Illusion of Control

Why do we use the same skills everywhere?

What is the Law of the Instrument?

According to the law of the instrument, when we acquire a new skill, we tend to see opportunities to use it everywhere. This bias is also known as “the law of the hammer”, “the golden hammer”, or “Maslow’s hammer”, in reference to psychologist Abraham Maslow’s famous quote: “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail”1.