Cognitive Bias is a pernicious evil from which we will never be able to escape. Mainly because it is just a natural by-product of cognition and is built into the human machine that we are. Think of it as the Top Stories Algorithm of the brain. And there are so many types. Even if we could erase the big ones, there are still tons of little ones. They are like weeds – they just grow back more gnarly and unforving than before. Just look at our national political discourse for evidence.
And as more types of Bias are identified, it is important that you are aware of them. To at least fight their grasping entangling tangles of graspers.
Here are some types that you probably have never heard of, but which your close friends say you are suffering from right now.
Invincible Driver Bias
This is probably the bias that is most readily identifiable in other people. We rarely see it in ourselves, but it is there. Lurking. Brooding. Waiting to burst thru that yellow light changing to red before you even get to the intersection. Calmly passing on the right, while zipping back over to make that last minute left. Sneakily cutting through the Piggly Wiggly parking lot to pop out of the McDonald’s entrance only lane in order to get in front of the lady in the blue mini-van that was in front of you for those couple of blocks 3 miles back. There is a reason your co-workers never ask you to drive to lunch. Slow down. Drive safe.
Best Chef Bias
Food is the thing we all have in common. We all gotta have it. But within that common need is a miasmic landscape of unseemly self-congratulatory undulation. We all believe that the foods that we grew up on were the de facto baseline to judge all other foods. And since we cook those foods the same way our sainted mums and dads and grands did, we are the most recent in a long line of world class chefs. That tuna fish sandwich that we have every Friday is culinary perfection. And the fact that you don’t mince up a mini jar of sweet gerkins ino a fine sheen to fold into that can of dolphin-safe with 2 cups of miracle whip and a pinch of salt and some pepper, topped off with a slice of pre-sliced deli swiss is indicative of the lack of true love on the parts of your parents and their parents. So, please, stop posting pics of your poorly plated boiled veg and fried animal protein burp sealed in a small tupperware container. There is a reason we want to go out for lunch.
Greatest Decade Bias
It is the battle of the ages. It has been going on since we started counting time. Those 10 years, 30 years ago were amazing. We will never have another 10 years like that ever. Better than the middle 10 years of the Renaissance. Better than the 10 years in Pompeii before Vesuvius went off. Better than that 10 years when the first single cell organisms finally split and became multi cell organisms and started the first boy band. Objectively, though, we need to rein those horses in a bit and throw some caveats at it all. Maybe it wasn’t the best ever decade, but it could have been the decade with the best design aesthetic ever. Or the decade with the best live french dancehall shows before indoor plumbing was standard ever. Or just a decade that you personally are really fond of, but that maybe the rest of the world only thinks of occasionally as it relates to commonalities that might resonate with current events.
Disney Is Wonderful Bias
Monolith: a large and impersonal political, corporate, or social structure regarded as intractably indivisible and uniform. ‘Nuff said.
Prettiest Baby Bias
Remember? That first time you laid eyes upon that impossibly small little human? That tiny wrinkled face? That toothless mouth? Those squinched closed eyes? That unruly tuft of almost molecule thin hair reaching out in every direction? That ruddy complexion from the physical world finally having an opportunity to impose its will upon that delicate silken skin? Those little hands and fingers,reaching out into, what the child can only assume in its rudimentary way, is a void with full expectation that it will touch safety and security and its future? Now, be honest for a second. There is no one prettiest baby, they are all the prettiest baby.
Remember, it is the 2020s. We will have the best self-drving cars, and the tastiest foods and the prettiest babies of all time. Check your biases at the door before the show and lets make this the best decade ever.
(PS: Here is a training video I was involved in making for a client that takes a fun look at Cognitive Bias in the workplace: https://vimeo.com/391838735)