Cognitive Biases

A list of the most relevant biases in behavioral economics


Action Bias


Why do we prefer doing something to doing nothing?

Affect Heuristic


Why do we rely on our current emotions when making quick decisions?

Ambiguity Effect


Why do we prefer options we know?

Anchoring Bias


Why do we compare everything to the first piece of information we received?

Attentional Bias


Why do we focus more on some things than others?

Authority Bias


Why do we always trust the doctor, even though they might be wrong?

Availability Heuristic


Why do we tend to think that things that happened recently are more likely to happen again?

Bandwagon Effect


Why do we support opinions as they become more popular?

Barnum Effect


Why do we believe our horoscopes?

Base Rate Fallacy


Why do we rely on specific information over statistics?

Belief Perseverance (The Backfire Effect)


Why do we maintain the same beliefs, even when we are proved wrong?

Benjamin Franklin effect


Why do we like someone more after doing them a favor?



Why do we focus on trivial things?

Bottom-Dollar Effect


Why do we transfer negative emotions about being broke on items that we purchase?

Bounded Rationality


Why are we satisfied by “good enough?”

Bundling Bias


Why do we value items purchased in a bundle less than those purchased individually?

Bye-Now Effect


Why are we likely to spend more after reading the word “bye”?

Cashless Effect


Why does paying without physical cash increase the likelihood that we purchase something?

Category Size Bias


Why do we think we’re more likely to win at the big casino versus the small one?

Choice Overload


Why do we have a harder time choosing when we have more options?

Cognitive Dissonance


Why is it so hard to change someone's beliefs?

Commitment Bias


Why do people support their past ideas, even when presented with evidence that they're wrong?

Confirmation Bias


Why do we favor our existing beliefs?

Decision Fatigue


Why do we make worse decisions at the end of the day?



Why do we think the past is better than the future?

Decoy Effect


Why do we feel more strongly about one option after a third one is added?

Disposition Effect


Why do we tend to hold on to losing investments?

Distinction Bias


Why do we view options as more distinct when evaluating them simultaneously?

Dunning–Kruger Effect


Why can we not perceive our own abilities?

Einstellung Effect


Why do our past experiences prevent us from reaching the best possible outcome?

Empathy Gap


Why do we mispredict how much our emotions influence our behavior?

Endowment Effect


Why do we value items more if they belong to us?

Extrinsic Incentive Bias


Why do we think others are in it for the money, but we’re in it for the experience?

False Consensus Effect


Why do we overestimate agreement?

Framing Effect


Why do our decisions depend on how options are presented to us?

Functional Fixedness


Why do we have trouble thinking outside the box?

Fundamental Attribution Error


Why do we underestimate the influence of the situation on people’s behavior?

Gambler's Fallacy


Why do we think a random event is more or less likely to occur if it happened several times in the past?

Google Effect


Why do we forget information that we just looked up?

Halo Effect


Why do positive impressions produced in one area positively influence our opinions in another area?

Hard-easy effect


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



Why do we take mental shortcuts?

Hindsight Bias


Why do unpredictable events only seem predictable after they occur?

Hot Hand Fallacy


Why do we expect previous success to lead to future success?

Hyperbolic Discounting


Why do we value immediate rewards more than long-term rewards?

IKEA Effect


Why do we place disproportionately high value on things we helped to create?

Identifiable Victim Effect


Why are we more likely to offer help to a specific individual than a vague group?

Illusion of Control


Why do we think we have more control over the world than we do?

Illusion of Transparency


Why do we feel that others can read our mind?

Illusion of Validity


Why are we overconfident in our predictions?

Illusory Correlation


Why do we think some things are related when they aren’t?

Illusory Truth Effect


Why do we believe misinformation more easily when it’s repeated many times?

Impact Bias


Why do we overestimate our emotional reactions to future events?

In-group Bias


Why do we treat our in-group better than we do our out-group?



Why do we work harder when we are promised a reward?

Just-World Hypothesis


Why do we believe that we get what we deserve?

Lag Effect


Why does spacing out the repetition of information make one more likely to remember it?

Law of the Instrument


Why do we use the same skills everywhere?

Less-is-Better Effect


Why do our preferences change depending on whether we judge our options together or separately?

Leveling and Sharpening


Why do we exaggerate some details of a story, but minimize others?

Levels of Processing


Why do we remember information that we attach significance to better than information we repeat?

Look-elsewhere Effect


Why do scientists keep looking for a statistically significant result after failing to find one initially?

Loss Aversion


Why do we buy insurance?

Mental Accounting


Why do we think less about some purchases than others?

Mere Exposure Effect


Why do we prefer things that we are familiar with?

Messenger Effect


Why do we find some people more credible than others?

Motivating Uncertainty Effect


Why are we more motivated by rewards of unknown sizes?

Naive Allocation


Why do we prefer to spread limited resources across our options?

Naive Realism


Why do we believe we have an objective understanding of the world?

Negativity Bias


Why is the news always so depressing?

Noble Edge Effect


Why do we tend to favor brands that show care for societal issues?

Normalcy Bias


Why do we believe that nothing bad is going to happen?

Nostalgia Effect


How do our sentimental feelings for the past influence our actions in the present?

Observer Expectancy Effect


Why do we change our behavior when we’re being watched?

Omission Bias


Why don’t we pull the trolley lever?

Optimism Bias


Why do we overestimate the probability of success?

Ostrich Effect


Why do we prefer to ignore negative information?

Overjustification Effect


Why do we lose interest in an activity after we are rewarded for it?

Peak-end Rule


How do our memories differ from our experiences?

Pessimism bias


Why do we think we’re destined to fail?

Planning Fallacy


Why do we underestimate how long it will take to complete a task?

Pluralistic Ignorance


Why do we think our beliefs are different from the majority?

Primacy Effect


Why do we only remember the first things on our grocery list?



Why do some ideas prompt other ideas later on without our conscious awareness?

Projection Bias


Why do we think our current preferences will remain the same in the future?

Reactive devaluation


Why is negotiation so difficult?

Recency Effect


Why do we better remember items at the end of a list?

Regret Aversion


Why do we anticipate regret before we make a decision?

Representativeness Heuristic


Why do we use similarity to gauge statistical probability?

Response Bias


Why do we give false survey responses?

Restraint Bias


Why do we overestimate our self-control?

Rosy Retrospection


Why do we think the good old days were so good?

Salience Bias


Why do we focus on items or information that are more prominent and ignore those that are not?

Self-serving Bias


Why do we blame external factors for our own mistakes?

Serial Position Effect


Why do we better remember items at the beginning or end of a list?

Sexual Overperception Bias


Why do men think that women are always flirting with them?

Social Norms


Why do we follow the behavior of others?

Source Confusion


Why do we forget where our memories come from?

Spacing Effect


Why do we retain information better when we learn it over a long time period?

Spotlight Effect


Why do we feel like we stand out more than we really do?

Status Quo Bias


Why do we tend to leave things as they are?



Why is yawning contagious?

Survivorship Bias


Why do we misjudge groups by only looking at specific group members?

Take-the-best Heuristic


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

Telescoping Effect


Why do some things “seem like they just happened yesterday?”

The Illusion of Explanatory Depth


Why do we think we understand the world more than we actually do?

The Pygmalion effect


Why do we perform better when someone has high expectations of us?

The Sunk Cost Fallacy


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

Zero Risk Bias


Why do we seek certainty in risky situations?

Notes illustration

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