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Cognitive Bias-a-Day

Presented by Bo Bennett, PhD

In this course, you will learn a new cognitive bias, effect, or heuristic each day and understand why others (and you) make poor decisions, bad arguments, and hold false beliefs. All cognitive biases in this course are involved in the reasoning process and can lead to accepting bad arguments. The first and most important way to combat the negative effects of cognitive biases is to recognize them. This course will help you do that.

Mitigate the Effects of Cognitive Biases and Become More Reasonable

Passive microlearning: receive an e-mail a day on a cognitive bias for 125 days
Become a better debater
Improve your critical thinking skills
Ditch your false beliefs
Become smarter


Become a Cognitive Bias Whiz and Understand Logical Fallacies Better

In the early 1970s, two behavioral researchers, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky pioneered the field of behavioral economics through their work with cognitive biases and heuristics, which like logical fallacies, deal with errors in reasoning. The main difference, however, is that logical fallacies require an argument whereas cognitive biases and heuristics (mental shortcuts) refer to our default pattern of thinking. Sometimes there is crossover. Logical fallacies can be the result of a cognitive bias, but having biases (which we all do) does not mean that we have to commit logical fallacies. Consider the bandwagon effect, a cognitive bias that demonstrates the tendency to believe things because many other people believe them. This cognitive bias can be found in the logical fallacy, appeal to popularity.

Everybody is doing X.
Therefore, X must be the right thing to do.


The cognitive bias is the main reason we commit this fallacy. However, if we just started working at a soup kitchen because all of our friends were working there, this wouldn’t be a logical fallacy, although the bandwagon effect would be behind our behavior. The appeal to popularity is a fallacy because it applies to an argument.

When we understand cognitive biases, we understand the reasons behind countless bad arguments, bad reasoning, and bad ideas.

Audience

This course was designed for students 13 and up.

Learning Resources

For this course, text, audio, and video resources are used. All of the resources are compatible with virtually all modern web-browsers and mobile devices.

Prerequisites

There are no prerequisites for this course.

Required Resources

There are no required resources for this course.

Optional Resources

There are no optional resources for this course.

Student Expectations

As a self-paced course, there are no time expectations. However, student support is limited to 6 months from the start of the course date. Students are expected to communicate with instructors and other students in a professional and respectful manner.

This Syllabus May Be Updated

The contents of this syllabus may change from time to time. All students will be notified by e-mail of any significant changes.

Lessons in this Course

Click on any lesson below to see the lesson details. If you are a student and logged in, or if the lesson is a sample lesson, you will be able to go to the lesson.

Lesson #1: Actor–observer Bias

A tendency to attribute one’s own actions to external causes, while attributing other people’s behaviors to internal causes.. Example:  “I tripped because of the uneven pavement. You tripped because you are a klutz.”

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Lesson #2: Ambiguity Effect

A bias in decision making where people tend to select options for which the probability of a favorable outcome is known, over an option for which the probability of a favorable outcome is unknown. . Example: “I’ll go with the double c. . .

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Lesson #3: Anchoring Effect or Focalism

A bias in decision making where one relies too heavily on the first piece of information offered (or the “anchor”). . Example: “The guy asking for donations asked me if I wanted to give $100 or even just $20. So I gave him $20 w. . .

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Lesson #4: Attentional Bias

The tendency for a person’s perception to be affected by his or her recurring thoughts at the time. . Example: (As Jimmy is watching Shark Week on television). “Jimmy, you want to go for a swim in the ocean?” “No! Are yo. . .

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Lesson #5: Authority Bias

The tendency to attribute greater accuracy to the opinion of a general authority figure (not one specific to the topic at hand) and be more influenced by that opinion. . Example: “Leonard Nimoy said on In Search Of that ancient aliens mig. . .

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Lesson #6: Automation Bias

The tendency to favor suggestions from automated decision-making systems and to ignore contradictory information made without automation, even if it is correct. . Example: “This Facebook online quiz said that I am most like the Disney princ. . .

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Lesson #7: Availability Cascade

A self-reinforcing process in which a collective belief gains more and more plausibility through its increasing repetition in public discourse (or “repeat something long enough, and it will become true”). . Example: Cults that repeat . . .

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Lesson #8: Availability Heuristic

A mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to mind when evaluating a specific topic, concept, method or decision. . Example: Believing that driving across the country is safer than taking a plane because you remember seeing a h. . .

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Lesson #9: Backfire Effect

When one’s beliefs are challenged by contradicting evidence, the belief becomes stronger. . Example: “You can give me all the evidence you want, I know what I know! The more evidence you try to give me against my belief, the more I am. . .

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Lesson #10: Bandwagon Effect

When one does something primarily because others are doing it. . Example: “Mom, I am going with Bobby and Jimmy to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge.”

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Lesson #11: Belief Bias (sample lesson)

Lesson #11: Belief Bias

The tendency to judge the strength of arguments based on how plausible their conclusions are rather than how strong the argument itself is. . Example: (To a person who already believes in God) “God exists because… look at that beauti. . .

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Lesson #12: Ben Franklin Effect

If person A has done a favor for person B, person A is more likely to do another favor for person B than if person B did a favor for person A. . Example: “Can you take out my garbage on Tuesday?” “Why not, I did it last Tuesday.. . .

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Lesson #13: Bias Blind Spot

One’s inability to recognize one’s own biases. . Example: “Of course you are voting that way. This is because of the confirmation bias. I, on the other hand, am voting the other way because I am reasonable.”

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Lesson #14: Bizarreness Effect

That which is bizarre or strange is more likely to be remembered than that which is normal. . Example: Most memory strategies include making bizarre stories in your mind to remember objects and numbers. This is very effective.

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Lesson #15: Cheerleader Effect

The bias that causes us to find individuals more attractive when they are in a group. . Example: “Those guys are gorgeous!… Oh, wait. Now that they split up, I am looking at them individually and they really aren’t that good lo. . .

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Lesson #16: Childhood Amnesia

The inability to remember anything before age two or three. . Example: “My first memory is of me sitting on my father’s lap when he told me about his grandfather. I think I was about three years old then.”

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Lesson #17: Choice-supportive Bias

The tendency to retroactively ascribe positive attributes to an option one has selected. This is also known as post-purchase rationalization . . Example: “That $40 bar of soap I bought at the multi-level-marketing seminar is well worth it . . .

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Lesson #18: Clustering Illusion

This is the tendency to erroneously see random clusters in data as significant or meaningful. . Example: “Look at all the murders that took place in Detroit this year compared to other years. Detroit has a major problem.” This isn&rs. . .

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Lesson #19: Confirmation Bias

The tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories. . Example: “I know my political position is right because all of the media outlets I subscribe to also agree with me.”

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Lesson #20: Congruence Bias

A bias in research where one has an over-reliance on direct testing of a hypothesis while ignoring indirect testing. . Example: If a researcher wants to know if smoking pot leads to homelessness, she might just (incorrectly) look at how many home. . .

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Lesson #21: Conservatism

The tendency to revise one’s belief insufficiently when presented with new evidence. . Example: Gert believes in the Loch Ness Monster. Gert is shown how every photo and story used as “proof” has been discredited. Gert is now le. . .

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Lesson #22: Consistency Bias

The psychological tendency to see oneself as consistent which affects our actions. . Example: If you see yourself as the type of person who gives to charity, and someone asks you for money for their charity, even if you don’t exactly suppor. . .

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Lesson #23: Context Effect

A concept within cognitive psychology that has to do with how environmental factors affect our perception of stimuli. . Example: A joke might be hilarious at a comedy club, but the same joke at a funeral is not at all funny.

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Lesson #24: Continued Influence Effect

This refers to the way false information enters memory and continues to affect beliefs even after the false information has been corrected. . Example: Accusations were made about politician X being a rapist. All allegations were clearly found to . . .

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Lesson #25: Contrast Effect

Adding or subtracting value to subjects or objects based on how we analyze them as compared to what we perceive as a normal case. . Example: People who are happy with their salary are later unhappy with their salary when they find out that their . . .

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Lesson #26: Courtesy Bias

The tendency to tell people what we think they want to hear. . Example: “That tattoo of your mother on your arm really suits you!”

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Lesson #27: Cross-race Effect

The tendency to more easily recognize and distinguish between faces that match one’s own race (or the race with which one is more familiar). . Example: The quasi-racist remark “they all look the same to me” is based on this effect. More acc. . .

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Lesson #28: Cryptomnesia

When forgotten memories return to consciousness and are mistaken for original thoughts and ideas. . Example: “I have this great idea for a book: Imagine a young girl who has this dream that she is taken to this strange land where she meets a li. . .

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Lesson #29: Curse of Knowledge

Assuming that others with whom you are communicating have the same background knowledge about the topic(s) as you do. . Example: Many bad teachers assume that the students already know what the teacher knows, so they lose the students in the proc. . .

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Lesson #30: Declinism (sample lesson)

Lesson #30: Declinism

The tendency to believe that a society or institution is tending towards decline. . Example: “Things were so much better in the past. We need to make this place great again!”

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Lesson #31: Decoy Effect

Since choices are often made relative to what is being offered rather than absolute preferences, by introducing an option that is of lesser value but similar to one of the other options, one’s choice can be manipulated whereas he or she would ten. . .

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Lesson #32: Defensive Attribution Hypothesis

Refers to a set of beliefs used as a shield for oneself against the fear that one will be the victim or cause of a serious mishap. . Example: “I will never get into a drunk driving accident. I know my limits!”

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Lesson #33: Denomination Effect

People are less likely to spend larger bills than their equivalent value in smaller bills. . Example: If an item cost $20, and person A has a $20 bill, and person B has 20 $1 bills, all other things being equal, person B will be more likely to bu. . .

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Lesson #34: Disposition Effect

The tendency of investors to sell assets whose price has increased, while keeping assets that have dropped in value. . Example: Stocks A and B were both purchased for $10 each. Stock A is now worth $20, and stock B is now worth $5. The investor i. . .

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Lesson #35: Distinction Bias

The tendency to view two options as more different from one another (distinctive) when evaluating them simultaneously than when evaluating them separately. . Example: “I can see how different the twins are when they are both in the same room. O. . .

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Lesson #36: Dunning–Kruger Effect

When people are too ignorant to realize the extent of their own ignorance. . Example: Politician X thinks he can easily solve the problems we have in the Middle East. This is because he knows very little about the problems.

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Lesson #37: Duration Neglect

The psychological observation that people’s judgments of the unpleasantness of painful experiences depend very little on the duration of those experiences. . Example: If person A has his hand in ice-cold water for 10 seconds,   and pe. . .

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Lesson #38: Egocentric Bias

The tendency to rely too heavily on one’s own perspective and/or have a higher opinion of oneself than reality dictates. . Example: “The world is full of beautiful women everywhere one goes!” (Says the guy who has never left his Swedish vil. . .

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Lesson #39: Empathy Gap (sample lesson)

Lesson #39: Empathy Gap

The perceptive difference between attitudes, preferences, and behaviors while in a visceral state versus in a calm state. . Example: “I can’t imagine why that woman fainted when seeing the decapitated head. We see these in movies all the time. . .

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Lesson #40: Endowment Effect

The hypothesis that people ascribe more value to things merely because they own them. . Example: John would never buy a trinket for $5, but if he were given the trinket, he probably wouldn’t sell it for $5 either.

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Lesson #41: Experimenter’s or Expectation Bias

This is a research-related bias. This is the tendency for researchers (experimenters) to believe, certify, and publish data that agree with their expectations for the outcome of an experiment, and to disbelieve, discard, or downgrade the correspond. . .

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Lesson #42: Extrinsic Incentives Bias

The tendency to attribute extrinsic motives (e.g. money) rather than intrinsic motives (e.g. education) when weighing the motives of others rather than oneself. . Example: When a manager thinks more money will be a greater motivator to her staff . . .

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Lesson #43: Fading Affect Bias

The tendency to forget information associated with negative emotions more quickly than information associated with pleasant emotions. . Example: One is more likely to remember the details of their upcoming vacation and less likely to remember the. . .

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Lesson #44: False Consensus Effect

The tendency to overestimate the extent to which one’s own opinions, beliefs, preferences, values, and habits are normal and typical of those of others. . Example: “Nobody likes going to the movies anymore. I have not been to the movies in ye. . .

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Lesson #45: False Memory

An apparent recollection of an event that did not actually occur. . Example: Many innocent people were sent to prison based on the false memories of children who “recalled” sexual abuse—thanks to a process known as suggestion by therapist. . .

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Lesson #46: Focusing Effect

The tendency to weigh attributes and factors unevenly, putting more importance on some aspects and less on others. . Example: Dating a horrible human being just because she has big boobs.

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Lesson #47: Forer Effect or Barnum Effect

The tendency to give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of one’s personality that supposedly are tailored specifically to them but that are, in fact, vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. . Example: I know very muc. . .

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Lesson #48: Framing Effect

The tendency to react to a particular choice in different ways depending on how it is presented. . Example: (in universe #1) “We can either go see that awesome movie that got rave reviews, or stay home and watch TV.” “Let’s go see the mov. . .

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Lesson #49: Frequency Illusion

The tendency to notice instances of a particular phenomenon once one starts to look for it, and to, therefore, believe erroneously that the phenomenon occurs more often than it does. . Example: You start to look for “signs” that you should ta. . .

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Lesson #50: Functional Fixedness

The tendency to limit oneself to using an object only in the way it is traditionally used. . Example: Running out to the garage to get a hammer to hammer in a small nail to hang a picture frame, when you are surrounded by other objects, such as p. . .

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Lesson #51: Fundamental Attribution Error

The tendency to explain someone’s behavior based on internal factors and to underestimate the influence that external factors have on another person’s behavior. . Example: “Billy is acting out because he is an unruly kid with no discipline.. . .

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Lesson #52: Generation Effect (Self-generation Effect)

The tendency to better remember information if it is generated from one’s own mind rather than simply read. . Example: Stories that are made up are better remembered by the person making up the story than if that person read the story.

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Lesson #53: Google Effect

The tendency to forget information that can easily be found online by using Internet search engines such as Google. . Example: “What is the capital of Wyoming?” “Let me see… ‘Siri, what is the capital of Wyoming?&rs. . .

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Lesson #54: Group Attribution Error

People’s tendency to believe either (1) that the characteristics of an individual group member are reflective of the group as a whole, or (2) that a group’s decision outcome must reflect the preferences of individual group members, even when in. . .

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Lesson #55: Halo Effect (sample lesson)

Lesson #55: Halo Effect

The tendency for an impression created in one area to influence opinion in another area. . Example: “My teacher really knows his stuff when it comes to math. I bet he is also a whiz at chess!”

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Lesson #56: Hard–easy Effect

The tendency to be overconfident about the correctness of answers to difficult questions and underconfident about answers to easy questions. . Example: This frequently happens with multiple choice questions where people consistently second guess . . .

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Lesson #57: Hindsight Bias

The tendency to see a past event as having been predictable, despite there having been little or no objective basis for predicting it. . Example: “I knew that he was going to hit a home run!”

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Lesson #58: Humor Effect

The tendency to better remember humorous items than non-humorous ones. . Example: Memorize three mental images. Later try to recall them all and see which you remember better. 1) a man walking by a lake 2) a woman running up a mountain, and 3) Wi. . .

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Lesson #59: Hyperbolic Discounting

The tendency for one to increasingly choose a smaller, sooner reward over a larger, later reward as the delay occurs sooner rather than later in time. . Example: People would rather have $10 now than $20 a year from now, even though that $20 repr. . .

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Lesson #60: Identifiable Victim Effect

The tendency of individuals to offer greater aid when a specific, identifiable person (or “victim”) is observed under hardship, as compared to a large, vaguely defined group with the same need. . Example: “A single death is a tragedy, a mil. . .

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Lesson #61: IKEA Effect (sample lesson)

Lesson #61: IKEA Effect

The tendency to place a disproportionately high value on products one partially creates. . Example: “Do you like this table? It is my favorite piece of furniture.” “It looks like an ordinary table.” “Yea, but I assembled it!”

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Lesson #62: Illusion of Asymmetric Insight

The tendency to perceive one’s knowledge of others to surpass other people’s knowledge of them. . Example: We think we know our spouse better than he or she knows us.

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Lesson #63: Illusion of Control

The tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control events. . Example: “Don’t worry. I have practiced quite a bit for my part in the play. The play is going to be great!”

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Lesson #64: Illusion of External Agency

A set of attributional biases consisting of illusions of influence, insight, and benevolence. . Example: “I just managed not to fall off that cliff! There must be a guardian angel looking out for me!”

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Lesson #65: Illusion of Transparency

The tendency for people to overestimate how well they understand others’ personal mental states. . Example: “Timmy is fine. He’s just upset because he didn’t win.” Actually, Timmy is upset because his dad called him a “loser.”

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Lesson #66: Illusion of Truth Effect (Illusory Truth Effect)

The tendency to believe information to be correct the more it is repeated. . Example: One of the ways the Russians influenced the 2016 presidential election was to flood the Internet with false information and narratives about the Democratic cand. . .

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Lesson #67: Illusion of Validity

The tendency for one to overestimate his or her ability to interpret and predict accurately the outcome when analyzing a set of data that appears to show a consistent pattern. . Example: Wine connoisseurs often think they have a valid method for . . .

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Lesson #68: Illusory Correlation

The tendency to perceive a relationship between variables (typically people, events, or behaviors) even when no such relationship exists. . Example: Good luck is frequently associated with rituals or “good luck charms.”

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Lesson #69: Illusory Superiority

The tendency for one to overestimate his or her own qualities and abilities, relative to others. . Example: In several studies, a vast majority of those interviewed believe that they are better than average when it comes to driving. Of course, on. . .

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Lesson #70: Impact Bias (sample lesson)

Lesson #70: Impact Bias

The tendency for people to overestimate the length or the intensity of future feeling states. . Example: Sandy thinks she would be miserable for months if she was dumped by Troy. Troy dumped Sandy. Sandy was only miserable for a couple of days an. . .

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Lesson #71: Information Bias

Believing that the more information that can be acquired to make a decision, the better, even if that extra information is irrelevant for the decision. . Example: Phil holds off on accepting the job because he is waiting to find out if he will be. . .

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Lesson #72: Ingroup Bias

The tendency to favor one’s own group. . Example: Choosing to sit next to a person roughly your same age, same gender, and same race rather than someone in one of these different groups.

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Lesson #73: Insensitivity to Sample Size

The tendency to judge the probability of obtaining a sample statistic without respect to the sample size. . Example: Willie thinks that because he played roulette three times and won twice, that if he plays 30 times, he will win about 20 times.

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Lesson #74: Irrational Escalation

The tendency to make irrational decisions based upon rational decisions in the past or to justify actions already taken. . Example: It was rational to threaten violence as a last resort if country X did not comply with policy Y. Country X did not. . .

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Lesson #75: Just-world Hypothesis

The tendency to believe one will get what one deserves that often leads to a rationalization of an inexplicable injustice by suggesting things the victim might have done to deserve it. . Example: The idea that homeless people are homeless because. . .

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Lesson #76: Law of the Instrument

The tendency to over rely on a familiar tool. . Example: A Freudian psychotherapist might think that most problems are a result of oppressed feelings from childhood.

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Lesson #77: Less-is-better (less-is-more) Effect

A type of preference reversal that occurs when the lesser or smaller alternative of a proposition is preferred when evaluated separately, but not evaluated together. . Example: Choosing an expensive $45 pen over a cheap $55 desk clock. However, i. . .

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Lesson #78: Loss Aversion

The tendency to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains. . Example: One would theoretically do more to protect from losing $100 then he or she would for gaining $100.

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Lesson #79: Mere Exposure Effect

The tendency to develop a preference for things merely because of familiarity with them. . Example: One might prefer an old car to a much better new car, simply because one is familiar with the old car.

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Lesson #80: Misinformation Effect

When a person’s recall of episodic memories becomes less accurate because of post-event information. . Example: After the riot had broken out, a group of people started the false narrative that an elderly woman was struck by a police officer. D. . .

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Lesson #81: Moral Luck (sample lesson)

Lesson #81: Moral Luck

The tendency to ascribe moral praise or condemnation to a moral agent when they have no control of the factors that brought about the moral judgment. . Example: Carl and Jason go out for a night of drinking at the local bar. They both drive home . . .

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Lesson #82: Negativity Bias or Negativity Effect

The tendency for negative things to have a greater effect on one’s psychological state and processes than neutral or positive things of equal intensity. . Example: People are more affected emotionally by the death of a stranger than the birth o. . .

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Lesson #83: Normalcy Bias

The tendency to believe that things will always function the way things normally function. . Example: Many people don’t take proper precautions for a potential disaster because of this bias.

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Lesson #84: Observer-expectancy Effect

The tendency for a researcher’s cognitive bias(es) To cause them to subconsciously influence the participants of an experiment. . Example: If a researcher is investigating ESP, and is determined to prove it exists, she might give the participan. . .

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Lesson #85: Omission Bias

The tendency to judge harmful actions as worse, or less moral than equally harmful omissions (inactions). . Example: A person who passes a kid drowning and does nothing might be seen as a cold-hearted ass-clown, but not a murderer.

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Lesson #86: Optimism Bias

The tendency to believe that one is at less at risk of experiencing a negative event compared to others. . Example: “Car accidents are horrible, but I am very careful and that won’t happen to me!”

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Lesson #87: Ostrich Effect

The tendency to ignore a dangerous or risky situation. . Example: Sometimes people will rationalize or make excuses for why they don’t want to do something when the real reason has to do with this bias.

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Lesson #88: Outcome Bias

An error made in evaluating the quality of a decision when the outcome of that decision is already known. . Example: When our leaders take a military action, we might support the decision initially. However, if the military action is a failure or. . .

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Lesson #89: Outgroup Homogeneity Bias

The tendency to perceive out-group members as more similar to one another than in-group members. . Example: All people on the other team are essentially the same—mean and nasty, whereas all those on our team have all different personalities.

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Lesson #90: Overconfidence Effect

The tendency for one’s confidence in his or her judgments is reliably greater than the objective accuracy of those judgments, especially when confidence is relatively high. . Example: “I know I’m right!”

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Lesson #91: Pareidolia (sample lesson)

Lesson #91: Pareidolia

A psychological phenomenon in which the mind responds to a stimulus by perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists. . Example: Seeing Jesus in toast.

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Lesson #92: Peak-end Rule

An event makes its mark in our memories more by what happens at its end than at any prior point, then at its peak. . Example: Judging a really bad movie as good just because it had an exciting ending. Then watching the movie a second time and bei. . .

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Lesson #93: Pessimism Bias

The tendency for people to exaggerate the likelihood that negative things will happen to them. . Example: “Society is collapsing!”

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Lesson #94: Picture Superiority Effect

The tendency for pictures and images to be more likely remembered than words. . Example: Most marketing includes images for this reason.

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Lesson #95: Planning Fallacy

The tendency for predictions about how much time will be needed to complete a future task to display an optimism bias and underestimate the time needed. . Example: “I can be ready in 10 minutes.” In fact, it takes the person 20 minutes.

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Lesson #96: Projection Bias

The assumption that one’s tastes or preferences will remain the same over time. . Example: “I can’t imagine life without you!” Earnestly says the guy who just met the girl and had a great first date. Two dates later, he can’t wait to b. . .

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Lesson #97: Pseudocertainty Effect

The tendency to perceive an outcome as certain while in fact it is uncertain. . Example: “Are you sure you can stop at the store on the way home?” “I’m positive!” Actually, something came up at work, and he didn’t make it to the stor. . .

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Lesson #98: Reactance Bias

The tendency to do something different from what someone wants you to do in reaction to a perceived attempt to constrain your freedom of choice. . Example: An employee is asked by his boss to file a report by noon. He doesn’t like being his bo. . .

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Lesson #99: Reactive Devaluation

The tendency to devalue a proposal if it originates from an antagonist (i.e., some source that the person does not like). . Example: A politician makes an excellent decision that will be of great benefit to the country, but because the politician. . .

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Lesson #100: Response Bias

A category of cognitive biases that influence the responses of participants away from an accurate or truthful response. . Example: Most people (non-professionals) who conduct surveys are not well-aware of these biases. Therefore, the results of t. . .

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Lesson #101: Restraint Bias

The tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control impulsive behavior. . Example: This is a huge problem in dieting, being a faithful spouse, getting work done, and just about every other area of life. Once we realize that we have m. . .

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Lesson #102: Rosy Retrospection

The tendency to remember and recollect events more favorably than when they occurred. . Example: “Back in the ‘80s, people were friendly and life was grand!”

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Lesson #103: Selection Bias

The bias introduced by the selection of individuals, groups or data for analysis where the necessary randomization is not achieved.. Example: If a researcher is conducting a survey on how much money the average person spends at a mall, and they a. . .

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Lesson #104: Selective Perception

The tendency to select, categorize, and analyze stimuli from our environment to create meaningful experiences while blocking out stimuli that contradict our beliefs or expectations. . Example: “Clearly the world is falling apart. Everywhere I l. . .

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Lesson #105: Self-selection Bias

In statistics, the self-selection bias arises in any situation in which individuals select themselves into a group, causing a biased sample with nonprobability sampling. . Example: If you are wondering how people like your new website, and have a. . .

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Lesson #106: Self-serving Bias

The tendency for people to attribute positive events to their own character but attribute negative events to external factors, generally used to protect one’s self-esteem. . Example: Tracy broke up with Tommy. While she simply said, “it’s n. . .

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Lesson #107: Semmelweis Reflex

A metaphor for the reflex-like tendency to reject new evidence or new knowledge because it contradicts established norms, beliefs or paradigms. . Example: Throughout the centuries, scientific facts have met much resistance until they could no lon. . .

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Lesson #108: Sexual Overperception Bias

The tendency to believe that others are more sexually interested in you than they actually are. . Example: “Dude, she wants me.” No, she doesn’t.

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Lesson #109: Sexual Underperception Bias

The tendency to believe that others are less sexually interested in you than they actually are. . Example: “He is so sweet! He is really loves listening to all my stories about my cats!” No, he doesn’t.

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Lesson #110: Shared Information Bias

The tendency for group members to spend more time and energy discussing information that all members are already familiar with and less time and energy discussing information of which only some members are aware. . Example: Group A makes poor dec. . .

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Lesson #111: Social Comparison Bias

The tendency to dislike and compete with someone who is seen as physically, or mentally better than yourself. . Example: Rod meets Carl for the first time. Carl is good-looking, well-built, and holds a PhD in physics. Rod can’t stand Carl but c. . .

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Lesson #112: Social Desirability Bias

The tendency of survey respondents to answer questions in a manner that will be viewed favorably by others. . Example: In the survey question that asks, “How often do you have racist thoughts?” Participants are far more likely to downplay tha. . .

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Lesson #113: Source Confusion

The misattribution of the source of a memory. . Example: Sandy thinks she was abducted by aliens, when in fact, she is confusing actual events and scenes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind .

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Lesson #114: Status Quo Bias

The tendency to prefer the current state of affairs. . Example: The idea that people generally resist change, is true due to this bias. We pass up good opportunities because we prefer the status quo.

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Lesson #115: Subadditivity Effect

The tendency to judge the probability of the whole to be less than the probabilities of the parts. . Example: If we are asked to estimate the chance that we will die from natural causes, we might guess 50%. If we were provided a list of natural c. . .

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Lesson #116: Subjective Validation

The tendency for a person to consider a statement or another piece of information to be correct if it has any personal meaning or significance to them. . Example: A fortune cookie reads “You will learn something surprising today.” Later that . . .

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Lesson #117: Suggestibility

The tendency to believe that what someone says is true or may be true. . Example: Highly suggestible people require very little evidence or good reasons to accept information as true. This explains in part why so many people believe in astrology,. . .

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Lesson #118: System Justification

The tendency to defend and bolster the status quo, that is, to see it as good, fair, legitimate, and desirable. . Example: “I know the poor appear disadvantaged, but they are not victims of the system, they are victims of themselves!”

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Lesson #119: Telescoping Effect

The tendency for one to perceive recent events as being more remote than they are and distant events as being more recent than they are. . Example: “I just went to the doctor no more than a year ago.” Actually, he last went to the doctor thr. . .

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Lesson #120: Third-person Effect

The tendency to perceive that mass media messages have a greater effect on others than on oneself. . Example: “People are such suckers when it comes to what they believe in the media!”

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Lesson #121: Triviality/Parkinson’s Law of

The argument that members of an organization give disproportionate weight to trivial issues. . Example: When discussing how the AIDS drug will be distributed in Africa, the committee spent 80% of their time discussing the packaging of the drug.

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Lesson #122: Ultimate Attribution Error

The tendency to attribute negative outgroup and positive ingroup behavior to internal causes and to attribute positive outgroup and negative ingroup behavior to external causes. . Example: “Liberals like us have a deep compassion for our fellow. . .

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Lesson #123: Unit Bias (sample lesson)

Lesson #123: Unit Bias

The tendency to think that a unit of some entity (with certain constraints) is the appropriate and optimal amount. . Example: Americans are getting fatter partly because the portion “small” has increased significantly over the years. Next tim. . .

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Lesson #124: Worse-than-average Effect

The tendency to underestimate one’s achievements and capabilities in relation to others. . Example: If someone is really good at tennis, they might think that others are just as good.

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Lesson #125: Zero-risk Bias

The tendency to prefer the complete elimination of a risk even when alternative options produce a greater reduction in risk (overall). . Example: Travis is offered two bets: 1) he could wager $10 for a 1 in 2 chance at winning $100 or 2) he could. . .

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Lesson #126: Zero-sum Bias

The tendency to intuitively judge a situation to be zero-sum (i.e., resources gained by one party are matched by corresponding losses to another party) when it is actually non-zero-sum. . Example: People often object to government programs to tak. . .

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About Your Instructor

Bo Bennett, PhD. Bo Bennett's personal motto is "Expose an irrational belief, keep a person rational for a day. Expose irrational thinking, keep a person rational for a lifetime." Much of his work is in the area of education—not teaching people what to think, but how to think. His projects include his books, The Concept: A Critical and Honest Look at God and Religion, Logically Fallacious, the most comprehensive collection of logical fallacies, and Year To Success, a full year course in success. Bo has a podcast/blog called "The Dr. Bo Show" at http://www.TheDrBoShow.com where he takes a critical thinking-, reason-, and science-based approach to issues that matter with the goal of educating and entertaining.

Bo holds a PhD in social psychology, with a master's degree in general psychology and bachelor's degree in marketing. His complete bio along with current projects can be found at BoBennett.com.

Course Rating

(10 ratings)

Course Information

Passive Microlearning Course:

This is passive course where you are sent one lesson per day by e-mail. There is no required interactivity. Each lesson averages just a few minutes.

  • 126 days of lessons delivered to your e-mail, one per day—just minutes per day
  • 126 videos
  • upon successful completion of this course, students will receive an authenticated certificate of completion

A total of approximately 4 hours 42 minutes of student learning.

$19.95
Limited Time Offer: FREE


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Books Used In This Course

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Student Testimonials

This course is ideal for people who like to think for themselves and who are not puppets and slaves to the inconsistent and sometimes absurd thoughts of others. You have your own mind—use it. This course is stimulating, easy to understand, and should cause you to learn more about these topics. It is definitely worth the time and effort, whether you are a professional or not.

Stephen John (Steve Vorster)
Student since Jun 29 2017
Day 166 of enrollment

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