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Cognitive biases: discovering an interesting psychological effect

Cognitive biases: discovering an interesting psychological effect

May 24, 2022

Cognitive biases (also called cognitive biases) are about psychological effects that cause an alteration in the processing of information captured by our senses, which generates a distortion, wrong judgment, incoherent or illogical interpretation on the basis of the information we have.

Social biases are those that refer to attribution biases and disturb our interactions with other people in our daily lives.

Cognitive biases: the mind deceives us

The phenomenon of cognitive biases is born as a evolutionary need so that the human being can make immediate judgments that our brain uses to respond agilely to certain stimuli, problems or situations, which due to its complexity would be impossible to process all the information, and therefore requires a selective or subjective filtering. It is true that a cognitive bias can lead to mistakes, but in certain contexts it allows us to decide faster or make an intuitive decision when the immediacy of the situation does not allow for its rational scrutiny.


Cognitive psychology is responsible for studying this type of effects, as well as other techniques and structures that we use to process information.

Concept of prejudice or cognitive bias

The bias or cognitive bias arises from different processes that are not easily distinguishable. These include heuristic processing (mental shortcuts), emotional and moral motivations , wave social influence .

The concept of cognitive bias appeared for the first time thanks to Daniel Kahneman in the year 1972, when he realized the impossibility of people to reason intuitively with very large magnitudes. Kahneman and other academics were demonstrating the existence of patterns of scenarios in which judgments and decisions were not based on the predictable according to the theory of rational choice. They gave an explanatory support to these differences by finding the key to heurism, intuitive processes that are often the source of systematic errors.


The studies on cognitive biases were expanding their dimension and other disciplines also investigated them, such as medicine or political science. In this way the discipline of the Behavioral economics , who elevated Kahneman after winning the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002 for having integrated psychological research into economic science, discovering associations in human judgment and decision making.

However, some critics of Kahneman argue that heuristics should not lead us to conceive of human thought as a puzzle of irrational cognitive prejudices, but rather to understand rationality as a tool of adaptation that does not blend with the rules of formal logic or probabilistic.

Most studied cognitive biases

Retrospective bias or a posteriori bias: it is the propensity to perceive past events as predictable.


Correspondence bias: also called attribution error : it is the tendency to emphasize excessively in the well-founded explanations, behaviors or personal experiences of other people.

Confirmation bias: it is the tendency to find out or interpret information that confirms preconceptions.

Self-service bias : it is the tendency to demand more responsibility for successes than for failures. It is also shown when we tend to interpret ambiguous information as useful for their intentions.

False consensus bias: it is the tendency to judge that one's opinions, beliefs, values ​​and customs are more widespread among other people than they really are.

Memory bias : the bias in the memory can disrupt the content of what we remember.

Representation bias : when we assume that something is more likely from a premise that, in reality, does not predict anything.

An example of cognitive bias: Bouba or Kiki

The bouba / kiki effect it is one of the most commonly known cognitive biases. It was detected in 1929 by the Estonian psychologist Wolfgang Köhler . In an experiment in Tenerife (Spain), the academic showed forms similar to those of Image 1 to several participants, and detected a great preference among the subjects, who linked the pointed shape with the name "takete", and the shape rounded with the name "baluba" . In the year 2001, V. Ramachandran repeated the experiment using the names "kiki" and "bouba", and asked many people which of the forms received the name of "bouba", and which "kiki".

In this study, more than 95% of people chose the round shape as "bouba" and the pointy as "kiki" . This was an experimental basis for understanding that the human brain extracts properties in the abstract of forms and sounds. In fact, a recent investigation of Daphne Maurer It showed that even children under three years of age (who are not yet able to read) already report this effect.

Explanations about the Kiki / Bouba effect

Ramachandran and Hubbard interpret the kiki / bouba effect as a demonstration of the implications for the evolution of human language, because it gives clues that the naming of certain objects is not entirely arbitrary.

Calling "bouba" to the rounded shape might suggest that this bias is born from the way we pronounce the word, with the mouth in a more rounded position to emit the sound, while we use a more tense and angular pronunciation of the sound "kiki" . It should also be noted that the sounds of the letter "k" are harder than those of the "b". The presence of this type of "synesthetic maps" suggests that this phenomenon may constitute the neurological basis for the auditory symbolism , in which the phonemes are mapped and linked to certain objects and events in a non-arbitrary way.

People who suffer autism, however, do not show such a marked preference. While the set of subjects studied scores above 90% in attributing "bouba" to the rounded shape and "kiki" to the angulated shape, the percentage drops to 60% in people with autism.


CRITICAL THINKING - Cognitive Biases: Anchoring [HD] (May 2022).


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