1. Need to Act Fast

The Need to Act Fast may be broken down into categories:

We favor simple-looking options and complete information over complex ambiguous options, such as:

  • Less-is-better Effect The tendency to prefer a smaller set to a larger set judged separately, but not jointly.
  • Occam’s RazorA bias in favor of the simplest solution being the best solution.
  • Conjunction FallacyThe tendency to assume that specific conditions are more probable than a more general version of those same conditions.
  • Delmore EffectThe tendency to provide more articulate and explicit goals for lower priority areas of our lives.
  • Law of Triviality – The tendency to give disproportionate weight to trivial issues.
  • Bike-shedding EffectThe tendency to give disproportionate weight to trivial issues.(See Law of Triviality)
  • Rhyme as a Reason EffectRhyming statements are perceived as more truthful.
  • Belief BiasAn effect where someone’s evaluation of the logical strength of an argument is biased by the believability of the conclusion.
  • Information BiasThe tendency to seek information even when it cannot affect action.
  • Ambiguity BiasThe tendency to avoid options for which the probability of a favorable outcome is unknown.

To avoid mistakes we aim to preserve autonomy and group status, and avoid irreversible decisions, such as:

  • Status Quo BiasThe tendency to like things to stay relatively the same.
  • Social Comparison EffectThe tendency, when making decisions, to favour potential candidates who don’t compete with one’s own particular strengths.
  • Decoy EffectPreferences for either option A or B change in favor of option B when option C is presented, which is completely dominated by option B (inferior in all respects) and partially dominated by option A.
  • ReactanceThe urge to do the opposite of what someone wants you to do out of a need to resist a perceived attempt to constrain your freedom of choice (see also Reverse psychology).
  • Reverse PsychologyA technique involving the assertion of a belief or behavior that is opposite to the one desired, with the expectation that this approach will encourage the subject of the persuasion to do what actually is desired.
  • System JustificationThe tendency to defend and bolster the status quo. Existing social, economic, and political arrangements tend to be preferred, and alternatives disparaged, sometimes even at the expense of individual and collective self-interest. (See also status quo bias.)

To get things done, we tend to complete things we’ve invested time and energy in, such as:

  • Backfire EffectThe reaction to disconfirming evidence by strengthening one’s previous beliefs.
  • Endowment EffectThe tendency for people to demand much more to give up an object than they would be willing to pay to acquire it.
  • Processing Difficulty EffectThat information that takes longer to read and is thought about more (processed with more difficulty) is more easily remembered.
  • Pseudocertainty EffectThe tendency to make risk-averse choices if the expected outcome is positive, but make risk-seeking choices to avoid negative outcomes.
  • Disposition EffectThe tendency to sell an asset that has accumulated in value and resist selling an asset that has declined in value.
  • Zero-risk BiasPreference for reducing a small risk to zero over a greater reduction in a larger risk.
  • Unit BiasThe standard suggested amount of consumption (e.g., food serving size) is perceived to be appropriate, and a person would consume it all even if it is too much for this particular person.
  • IKEA EffectThe tendency for people to place a disproportionately high value on objects that they partially assembled themselves, such as furniture from IKEA, regardless of the quality of the end product.
  • Loss AversionThe disutility of giving up an object is greater than the utility associated with acquiring it.
  • Generation EffectThat self-generated information is remembered best. For instance, people are better able to recall memories of statements that they have generated than similar statements generated by others.
  • Escalation of CommitmentA situation in which people can make irrational decisions based upon rational decisions in the past or to justify actions already taken.
  • Irrational EscalationThe phenomenon where people justify increased investment in a decision, based on the cumulative prior investment, despite new evidence suggesting that the decision was probably wrong.
  • Sunk Cost FallacyWhen individuals continue a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources.  For example, individuals sometimes order too much food and then over-eat just to “get their money’s worth”.

To stay focused we favor the immediate relatable thing in front of us, such as:

  • Identifiable Victim EffectThe tendency to respond more strongly to a single identified person at risk than to a large group of people at risk.
  • Appeal to Novelty – A fallacy in which one prematurely claims that an idea or proposal is correct or superior, exclusively because it is new and modern.
  • Hyperbolic DiscountingDiscounting is the tendency for people to have a stronger preference for more immediate payoffs relative to later payoffs. Hyperbolic discounting leads to choices that are inconsistent over time – people make choices today that their future selves would prefer not to have made, despite using the same reasoning.

To act we must be confident we can make an impact and feel what we do is important, such as:

  • Peltzman EffectThe tendency to take greater risks when perceived safety increases.
  • Risk CompensationWhen people adjust their behavior in response to the perceived level of risk, becoming more careful where they sense greater risk and less careful if they feel more protected.
  • Effort JustificationWhen people believe a goal is worthwhile if they have worked hard to get there.
  • Trait Ascription BiasThe tendency for people to view themselves as relatively variable in terms of personality, behavior, and mood while viewing others as much more predictable.
  • Defensive Attribution HypothesisAttributing more blame to a harm-doer as the outcome becomes more severe or as personal or situational similarity to the victim increases.
  • Fundamental Attribution ErrorThe tendency for people to over-emphasize personality-based explanations for behaviors observed in others while under-emphasizing the role and power of situational influences on the same behavior.
  • Illusory SuperiorityOverestimating one’s desirable qualities, and underestimating undesirable qualities, relative to other people.
  • Illusion of ControlThe tendency to overestimate one’s degree of influence over other external events.
  • Actor-observer BiasThe tendency for explanations of other individuals’ behaviors to overemphasize the influence of their personality and underemphasize the influence of their situation (see also Fundamental attribution error), and for explanations of one’s own behaviors to do the opposite (that is, to overemphasize the influence of our situation and underemphasize the influence of our own personality).
  • Self-serving BiasThe tendency to claim more responsibility for successes than failures. It may also manifest itself as a tendency for people to evaluate ambiguous information in a way beneficial to their interests.
  • Barnum EffectThe observation that individuals will give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. This effect can provide a partial explanation for the widespread acceptance of some beliefs and practices, such as astrology, fortune telling, graphology, and some types of personality tests.
  • Forer EffectThe observation that individuals will give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. This effect can provide a partial explanation for the widespread acceptance of some beliefs and practices, such as astrology, fortune telling, graphology, and some types of personality tests.
  • Optimism BiasThe tendency to be over-optimistic, overestimating favorable and pleasing outcomes.
  • Egocentric BiasOccurs when people claim more responsibility for themselves for the results of a joint action than an outside observer would credit them with.
  • Dunning-Kruger EffectThe tendency for unskilled individuals to overestimate their own ability and the tendency for experts to underestimate their own ability.
  • Lake Wobegon EffectA tendency to overestimate one’s capabilities and see oneself as better than others.
  • Hard-easy EffectBased on a specific level of task difficulty, the confidence in judgments is too conservative and not extreme enough.
  • False Consensus EffectThe tendency for people to overestimate the degree to which others agree with them.
  • Third-person EffectBelief that mass communicated media messages have a greater effect on others than on themselves.
  • Social Desirability BiasThe tendency to over-report socially desirable characteristics or behaviours in oneself and under-report socially undesirable characteristics or behaviours.
  • Overconfidence EffectExcessive confidence in one’s own answers to questions. For example, for certain types of questions, answers that people rate as “99% certain” turn out to be wrong 40% of the time.