The Contrast Effect: When Comparison Enhances Differences

  The contrast effect is a cognitive bias that distorts our perception of something when we compare it to something else, by enhancing the differences between them. This comparison can be either explicit or implicit, simultaneous or at separate points in time, and can apply to various traits, ranging from physical qualities, such as color …

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Economic Man (Homo Economicus): On the False Assumption of Perfect Rationality

  The economic man (or homo economicus) is a conceptualization of people as ideal decision-making machines, with flawless rationality, unlimited cognitive capacity, perfect access to information, and a narrow range of consistent, self-interested goals. Roughly speaking, this means that the homo economicus can be seen as someone who only cares about maximizing things such as …

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The Rhyme-as-Reason Effect: Why Rhyming Makes Messages More Persuasive

  The rhyme-as-reason effect is a cognitive bias that makes people more likely to believe statements that contain a rhyme, compared to statements that don’t. For example, people generally perceive the statement “woes unite foes” as more accurate than the statements “woes unite enemies” and “misfortunes unite foes”—even though they all mean roughly the same …

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Placebo: Effects, Examples, Types, and More

  A placebo is something, such as a substance or procedure, that has no inherent ability to directly produce an effect of interest, but which can nevertheless produce this effect indirectly, generally through a psychological response. Most commonly, the term “placebo” is used in the medical context, to refer to an inert substance (e.g., a …

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The Confirmation Bias: Why People See What They Want to See

  The confirmation bias is a cognitive bias that causes people to search for, favor, interpret, and recall information in a way that confirms their preexisting beliefs. For example, if someone is presented with a lot of information on a certain topic, the confirmation bias can cause them to only remember the bits of information …

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The Benefits of Music and Background Noise

  Many people like to listen to music or background noise while they perform various activities, such as working, studying, or exercising. Research shows that this can be beneficial, since music and background noise offer a range of benefits when it comes to factors such as productivity, creativity, concentration, and mood. While it’s possible to …

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The Gambler’s Fallacy: What It Is and How to Avoid It

  The gambler’s fallacy is the mistaken belief that if an event occurred more frequently than expected in the past then it’s less likely to occur in the future (and vice versa), in a situation where these occurrences are independent of one another. For example, the gambler’s fallacy can cause someone to mistakenly assume that if …

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Debiasing: How to Reduce Cognitive Biases in Yourself and in Others

  Debiasing is a process through which the influence of cognitive biases is reduced, generally with the goal of helping people think in a more rational and optimal manner. Debiasing is usually accomplished through the use of various debiasing techniques, that can work on any number and type of cognitive biases. For example, when it comes to …

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Cognitive Biases: What They Are and How They Affect People

  A cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from rationality, which occurs due to the way our cognitive system works. Accordingly, cognitive biases cause us to be irrational in the way we search for, evaluate, interpret, judge, use, and remember information, as well as in the way we make decisions. For example, one …

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