We often think that our decisions are based on rational thinking, but the truth is, our decisions are also based on cognitive biases that we hold. Cognitive biases are errors in our thinking that can lead us to make decisions that are not in our best interest. There are many different types of cognitive biases, and they can affect all areas of our lives, from the decisions we make at work to our personal relationships.

Cognitive Biases at Work

One of the most common cognitive biases in the workplace is the confirmation bias. This bias leads us to seek out information that confirms our preconceived notions and ignore information that contradicts them. For example, if a manager believes that a certain employee is not a good fit for a promotion, they might focus on all the poor qualities that employee possesses and disregard any of their impressive achievements. This bias can result in missed opportunities and can affect employee morale.

Another cognitive bias that can affect the workplace is the halo effect. This bias is when we see someone as having one positive quality and therefore assume that they have other positive qualities. For example, if an employee is always punctual, their manager might assume that they are also hardworking and intelligent, even if there is no evidence to support these assumptions. This can lead to undeserved promotions and praise, which can create a culture of favoritism.

Workplace biases
2. Addressing cognitive biases can improve workplace diversity and inclusion.

Cognitive Biases in Personal Relationships

Cognitive biases can also affect our personal relationships. One common bias is the self-serving bias, which is when we attribute our successes to our own abilities and blame our failures on external factors. This can lead us to be blind to our own shortcomings while being quick to judge others.

Another bias that can affect personal relationships is the availability heuristic. This is when we judge the likelihood of something happening based on how easily we can bring it to mind. For example, if we hear about a plane crash on the news, we might think that flying is dangerous, even though statistically, flying is one of the safest modes of transportation. This bias can make us overly fearful of certain things and can lead to irrational decisions, such as refusing to fly.

Why It is Important to Be Aware of Cognitive Biases

It is important to be aware of cognitive biases because they can lead us to make poor decisions, both in our personal lives and in our work. By being aware of these biases, we can learn to recognize when we are falling into their traps and take steps to overcome them. For example, if we notice ourselves falling victim to the self-serving bias, we can take a step back and examine how our actions and abilities may have contributed to our failures.

Real-life Examples of the Consequences of Cognitive Biases

There are many real-life examples of the consequences of cognitive biases. One well-known example was the 2008 financial crisis. Many economists attribute the crisis to the overconfidence bias, which is when we overestimate our own abilities and our ability to predict the future. This bias led many bankers to make risky investments, believing that they could beat the odds and make a profit.

Another example is the Challenger disaster in 1986. The investigation into the disaster found that cognitive biases played a role in the decision-making process that led to the launch of the shuttle, despite concerns about the safety of the o-rings on the booster rockets. The engineers who raised these concerns were disregarded due to groupthink, which is when a group of people prioritize harmony and consensus over critical thinking.


1. “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman
2. “The Art of Thinking Clearly” by Rolf Dobelli

Further reading

1. “The Blind Spot Bias in Decision Making” by Harvard Business Review
2. “Avoiding Decision Traps” by McKinsey Quarterly


By Peter

8 thoughts on “Be aware of cognitive biases”
  1. I disagree with the author’s statement that our decisions are driven solely by cognitive biases. While cognitive biases do play a role in our decision-making process, it is important to note that rational thinking also plays a crucial role. By acknowledging and identifying cognitive biases, we can develop strategies to mitigate their impact. Additionally, the article does not mention the evolutionary advantages of cognitive biases, such as their role in decision-making under time constraints or uncertainty.

    To further understand cognitive biases and their impact, I suggest exploring the concept of bounded rationality, which suggests that time and resource constraints limit our ability to make fully rational decisions. This concept can help to explain why cognitive biases persist in decision-making. Additionally, learning about decision-making models such as the Dual Process Theory, which separates rational and automatic thinking, can help to identify when cognitive biases may be taking over.

    Two additional sources that provide valuable insight into cognitive biases are “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman and “The Art of Thinking Clearly” by Rolf Dobelli. These books delve into the subject in great detail, providing real-world examples and practical advice.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the article. We appreciate your input and agree with the importance of acknowledging and identifying cognitive biases in decision-making. Your suggestion to explore the concept of bounded rationality and the Dual Process Theory are helpful insights. Also, thank you for recommending additional sources to gain a deeper understanding of cognitive biases.

  2. Great article! I especially loved learning about the halo effect and how easy it is for us to assume that someone has a laundry list of good qualities just because they excel in one area. It’s like when I assume that because my dog is really good at catching a ball, he must also be a great mathematician. But seriously, cognitive biases are so important to be aware of in both our personal and professional lives. Thanks for shedding light on this topic!

    1. Thank you for your positive feedback! I’m glad you found the article informative and engaging. It’s true that cognitive biases can have a big impact on our perceptions and decision-making, and being aware of them is definitely important. Thanks again for reading!

  3. This is a valuable topic to discuss, but the article could benefit from more specific examples of cognitive biases and how to recognize and overcome them. Additionally, while the real-life examples given are certainly applicable, providing more diverse examples from various industries and fields would make the article more relatable and impactful. For those interested in further reading, “The Undoing Project” by Michael Lewis delves into the psychology of decision-making and cognitive biases.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful feedback and suggestions on how to improve the article. Your insights are greatly appreciated.

  4. This article reminds us of how cognitive biases affect our personal and work lives. Have you ever experienced cognitive biases in your day-to-day decision making?

    1. Cognitive biases are common in human decision making and can affect our daily lives. One example is the confirmation bias, where we tend to favor information that confirms our existing beliefs while ignoring evidence to the contrary. Another example is the hindsight bias, where we exaggerate our predictions of an outcome after it has occurred. These biases can lead to poor decision making and misinterpretation of information.

      If you want to learn more about cognitive biases and how to reduce their impact on decision making, you can visit the website of the Cognitive Bias Codex by Buster Benson (https://betterhumans.coach.me/cognitive-bias-cheat-sheet-55a472476b18), which provides a comprehensive list of cognitive biases with explanations and examples.

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