Blog entry by Orji Anyianuka
As people, we are trying to cope in a complex world and cannot afford to think deeply about every choice we have to make, and therefore, adopt sensible rules of thumb which sometimes lead us astray. These rules of the thumb are called cognitive biases.
They are also called psychological traps because, as much as they enable us to function in our day to day activities, they are also the major reasons why we make bad decisions. For example, In judging distance, the clearer an object appears, the closer it must be. The fuzzier it appears, the further away it must be. However, in a bad weather situation, this helpful shortcut can be disastrous for drivers on a highway.
Some of these traps are:
The Anchoring Trap: This is an overreliance on first thoughts. One of the most common ways this shows is basing our judgement about someone on our first impression of that person. Anchors often prejudice our thinking in ways that prevent us from seeking more facts about a situation or someone to guide our decision.
The Status Quo Trap: This status quo trap is self-explanatory. We often want to maintain the status quo. If we always cooked rice on Sundays, we are more likely to continue cooking rice on Sundays. This bias prevents us from asking questions about the reason behind practices or why things are the way they are.
The Sunk-Cost Trap: This is the trap that makes us continue in a bad past decision. Often when people invest in a bad business, they continue to put their time and money into it because they keep focusing on the money they had already put into the business.
The Confirming-Evidence Trap: This is the trap that makes us see the things we want to see. The confirming-evidence trap not only affects where we go to collect evidence but also how we interpret the evidence we do receive, leading us to give too much weight to supporting information and too little to conflicting information. For example, if I believe a particular stock will do well, I will keep looking for evidence to support my belief and will prevent me from trying to find out if the stock will do well or not.