Our brains are an incredible work of evolution, capable of amazing feats that even the best computers cannot replicate.
We are not computers however. Our brains have limitations that computers do not, and we live in a world that constantly bombards us with new information.
In order to keep pace our brains have developed a series of heuristics (or shortcuts) that let us jump to correct conclusions most of the time … but not always.
Here you can learn how these mental shortcuts can lead us astray as well as the answer to the common question: what is a cognitive bias?
What Is A Cognitive Bias And Why Do We Have Them?
Why use these shortcuts at all? Remember that the brain uses up to 25% of the body’s glucose.
Now think of the first humans, living in the plains of Africa and fighting for survival. Food is not always guaranteed and some decisions need to be made in a hurry.
That bush just moved a bit. The last time I saw a bush move like that a tiger jumped out. Do I run, or poke it with a stick?
As a result our brains developed in a world that rewarded energy efficiency and speed over 100% accuracy. Basically the organ we use to make decisions day after day is built around good enough instead of exactly right.
To be fair, good enough is exactly that. More often than not our brains come to correct decisions about just about everything. We just need to remember that they are not computers and that they tend to cheat on occasion without letting us know.
The List is Growing
It is only within the past half-century that psychologists and neuroscientists have started to discover and catalog our mental heuristics and more are being discovered all the time.
When studied, these cognitive biases start to explain some patterns of human behavior.
Why List them Here?
Why include any of this on a site about mental models? Because these patterns of human behavior fall squarely within the study of Elementary Worldly Wisdom.
This site is about learning the important mental models from all disciplines so as to make better decisions, and what could be more important to making better decisions than understanding when our brains tend to use short-cuts?
Please leave a comment below listing the cognitive biases you are most interested in learning more about.