The Ostrich Effect: Why and How People Avoid Information

  The ostrich effect is a cognitive bias that causes people to avoid information that they perceive as potentially unpleasant. For example, the ostrich effect can cause someone to avoid looking at their bills, because they’re worried about seeing how far behind they are on their payments. Information avoidance can lead to detrimental outcomes in …

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Ad Hominem: When People Use Personal Attacks in Arguments

  An ad hominem argument is a personal attack against the source of an argument, rather than against the argument itself. Essentially, this means that ad hominem arguments are used to attack opposing views indirectly, by attacking the individuals or groups that support these views. Ad hominem arguments can take many forms, from basic name-calling to …

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The Benjamin Franklin Effect: How to Build Rapport by Asking for Favors

  The Benjamin Franklin effect is a cognitive bias that causes people to like someone more after they do that person a favor, especially if they previously disliked that person or felt neutral toward them. For example, the Ben Franklin effect could cause someone who disliked you to start liking you after they do you …

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The Overkill Backfire Effect: On The Danger of Presenting Too Much Evidence

  The overkill backfire effect is a cognitive bias that causes people who encounter a complex explanation to reject it in favor of a simpler alternative, and to sometimes also reinforce their belief in the simpler alternative. For example, if someone is presented with a complicated scientific explanation for a certain phenomenon, the overkill backfire effect …

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Logical Fallacies: What They Are and How to Counter Them

  A logical fallacy is a pattern of reasoning that contains a flaw, either in its logical structure or in its premises. An example of a logical fallacy is the false dilemma, which is a logical fallacy that occurs when a limited number of options are incorrectly presented as being mutually exclusive to one another …

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The Appeal to Nature Fallacy: Why “Natural” Isn’t Necessarily Better

  The appeal to nature is a logical fallacy that occurs when something is claimed to be good because it’s perceived as natural, or bad because it’s perceived as unnatural. For example, a person using an appeal to nature might suggest using herbal remedies when treating a serious medical condition, despite what research says on the …

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The Halo Effect: Why People Often Judge a Book by Its Cover

  The halo effect is a cognitive bias that causes people’s impression of one aspect of something to influence their impression of other aspects of it. For example, the halo effect can cause people to assume that someone will have an interesting personality, simply because they find that person to be physically attractive. Essentially, the halo …

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The Backfire Effect: Why Facts Don’t Always Change Minds

  In a perfectly rational world, people who encounter evidence that challenges their beliefs would first evaluate this evidence, and then adjust their beliefs accordingly. However, in reality this is seldom the case. Instead, when people encounter evidence that should cause them to doubt their beliefs, they often reject this evidence, and strengthen their support for …

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The Spotlight Effect: How to Stop Being Self-Conscious

  The spotlight effect is a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate the degree to which they are observed and noticed by others, as well as the degree to which others care about the things that they notice about them. For example, the spotlight effect could cause someone to think that everyone is going …

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