28 error tendencies that affect inferences about what to believe as true or false

(first half of course)

An error tendency is a pattern of thinking that is natural for people but frequently leads to errors in judgments about what to believe or decisions about what to do.

Clustering illusion (Gilovich, ch. 2)

Tendency to see non-existent patterns in random events.

Representativeness (Gilovich, ch. 2)

Tendency to use assessments of similarity in statistical and causal reasoning.

Spurious causal theories (Gilovich, ch. 2)

Tendency to use unsupported causal theories in place of careful statistical and causal reasoning.

Regression fallacy (Gilovich, ch. 2)

Tendency for people's predictions to ignore that many statistical effects regress to the mean.

Vividness (Russo, ch. 4)

Tendency for information that is particularly salient or emotionally charged to be given undue influence.

Confirmation bias (Gilovich ch. 3)

Tendency to seek information that supports your views and to ignore information that contradicts them.

The problem of absent data (Gilovich ch. 3)

Tendency to be over-confident about conclusions despite the absence of relevant information.

Self-fulfilling prophecies (Gilovich ch. 3)

Tendency for expectations to affect the world in ways that make the expectation true.

Gambler's fallacy (Schick, ch. 3)

Tendency to view chance as a self-correcting process in which a deviation in one direction is corrected in the opposite direction, e.g. expecting tails after a string of heads.

Ambiguity (Gilovich, ch. 4)

Tendency to interpret ambiguous (more than one meaning) information in ways that fit our preconceptions.

Vagueness (Gilovich, ch. 4)

Tendency to interpret vague (no clear meaning) information in ways that fit our preconceptions.

Asymmetric recall (Gilovich, ch. 4)

Tendency to remember only one side of a situation, e.g. the unpleasant side.

Overconfidence in your judgment (Russo, ch. 4)

Tendency to fail to collect key factual information because of being too sure of assumptions and opinions.

Insufficient anchor adjustment (Russo, ch. 4)

Tendency to let an arbitrary starting point bias a final answer.

Hindsight bias (Russo, ch. 8)

Tendency to misremember your earlier attitudes based on later knowledge of outcomes.

Motivated inference (Gilovich, ch. 5)

Tendency to reach conclusions unduly influenced by personal goals.

Sharpening and leveling in communication (Gilovich, ch. 6)

Tendency to distort information in social contexts because of simplifying, faulty memory, or reformulating what was told.

Motivated communication distortions (Gilovich, ch. 6)

Tendency to distort information in social contexts for purposes of entertainment, informativeness, or self-interest.

False consensus (Gilovich, ch. 7)

Tendency to overestimate the extent to which other people agree with you

Groupthink (Gilovich, ch. 7)

Tendency for people working in groups to reach uncritical conclusions.

Pluralistic ignorance (not in texts)

Tendency not to realize that other people have beliefs similar to yours.

Bogus authority (Schick, ch. 5, and p. 288)

Tendency to believe authorities when they are speaking outside their areas of expertise.

Intuition (Schick, ch. 5)

Tendency to form beliefs based on a feeling or sixth sense, without evaluation of evidence.

Mystical experience (Schick, ch. 5)

Tendency to form beliefs on the basis of an ineffable, personal, direct experience of reality.

Denying the evidence (Schick, ch. 6)

Tendency to reject evidence rather than to abandon a favored hypothesis with which the evidence conflicts.

Hasty generalization (Schick, ch. 6)

Tendency to make a judgement about a group of things on the basis of evidence concernign only a few members of that group.

Conjunction fallacy (Schick, ch. 6)

Tendency to conclude that a conjunction (A&B) is more probable than one of the conjuncts (A). This occurs when the other conjunct (B) is highly representative or available.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc (Gilovich, ch. 8)

Tendency to infer that two events are causally related just because one happened after the other.

Updated Jan. 13, 2003

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