Incidental Learning: Learning Without Trying to Learn

  Incidental learning is learning that occurs unintentionally, from activities where learning is not a conscious goal for the learner. For example, when someone plays a sport just for fun, but ends up improving their skills over time, they’re engaging in incidental learning. Incidental learning can be beneficial in various contexts, so it’s important to …

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Intentional Learning: Setting Learning as a Deliberate Goal

  Intentional learning is learning that occurs as a result of activities where learning is a deliberate—and often primary—goal for the learner. For example, someone who reads research articles in order to understand a scientific phenomenon is engaging in intentional learning. It can be beneficial to understand intentional learning, in order to better understand how …

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Brooks’ Law: Adding Manpower to a Late Project Makes It Later

  Brooks’ law is the observation that “adding manpower to a late software project makes it later”. Applied broadly, this principle denotes that when it comes to various types of projects, adding more resources—especially more people—is often unhelpful and even counterproductive. Brooks’ law has important implications when it comes to personal and organizational productivity, so …

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The Projection Bias: People Underestimate How Much They Will Change

  The projection bias is a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate the degree to which their future attributes (e.g., tastes and beliefs) will resemble their current ones. Essentially, this bias leads people to engage in flawed self-forecasting, by projecting their current attributes onto their future self, and thus underestimating how much their attributes …

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Inert Knowledge: The Problem of Knowing Without Understanding

  Inert knowledge is information that a person knows but doesn’t fully understand, which means that they can only recognize, express, or use it in very limited ways. For example, a student has inert knowledge if they memorize a math formula and are able to repeat it, but they don’t understand what it means or …

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Kant’s Categorical Imperative: Act the Way You Want Others to Act

  The categorical imperative is a moral principle which denotes that you should “act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law”, meaning that you should act a certain way only if you’re willing to have everyone else act the same way …

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Reflective Learning: Thinking About the Way You Learn

  Reflective learning involves actively monitoring and assessing your knowledge, abilities, and performance during the learning process, in order to improve the process and its associated outcomes. For example, if you’re studying for a test, you can engage in reflective learning by asking yourself how well you understand each of the topics that you’re studying, …

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The Bias Blind Spot: People Are Often Unaware of Their Own Biases

  The bias blind spot is a cognitive bias that causes people to be less aware of their own biases than of those of others, and to assume that they’re less susceptible to biases than others. For example, the bias blind spot can cause someone to assume that other people’s political stance is influenced by …

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Belief Bias: When People Rely on Beliefs Rather Than Logic

  The belief bias is a cognitive bias that causes people to over-rely on preexisting beliefs and knowledge when evaluating the conclusions of an argument, instead of properly considering the argument’s content and structure. Accordingly, the belief bias means that people often accept arguments that align with their preexisting beliefs, even if those arguments are …

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