2. Lacking Meaning

The Lacking Meaning biases may be broken down into categories:

We Project our current mindset and assumptions onto the past and future, such as:

  • Self-consistency BiasIncorrectly remembering one’s past attitudes and behaviour as resembling present attitudes and behavior.
  • Restraint BiasThe tendency to overestimate one’s ability to show restraint in the face of temptation.
  • Projection BiasThe tendency to overestimate how much our future selves share one’s current preferences, thoughts and values, thus leading to sub-optimal choices.
  • Pro-innovation BiasThe tendency to have an excessive optimism towards an invention or innovation’s usefulness throughout society, while often failing to identify its limitations and weaknesses.
  • Time-saving BiasUnderestimations of the time that could be saved (or lost) when increasing (or decreasing) from a relatively low speed and overestimations of the time that could be saved (or lost) when increasing (or decreasing) from a relatively high speed.
  • Planning FallacyThe tendency to underestimate task-completion times.
  • Pessimism BiasThe tendency for some people, especially those suffering from depression, to overestimate the likelihood of negative things happening to them.
  • Impact BiasThe tendency to overestimate the length or the intensity of the impact of future feeling states.
  • DeclinismThe predisposition to view the past favorably (rosy retrospection) and future negatively.
  • Moral LuckThe tendency for people to ascribe greater or lesser moral standing based on the outcome of an event.
  • Outcome BiasThe tendency to judge a decision by its eventual outcome instead of based on the quality of the decision at the time it was made.
  • Hindsight BiasSometimes called the “I-knew-it-all-along” effect, the tendency to see past events as being predictable at the time those events happened.
  • Rosy RetrospectionThe psychological phenomenon of people sometimes judging the past disproportionately more positively than they judge the present.
  • Telescoping EffectThe tendency to displace recent events backward in time and remote events forward in time, so that recent events appear more remote, and remote events, more recent.

We think we know what other people are thinking, such as:

  • Illusion of TransparencyPeople overestimate others’ ability to know themselves, and they also overestimate their ability to know others.
  • Curse of KnowledgeWhen better-informed people find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed people.
  • Spotlight EffectThe tendency to overestimate the amount that other people notice your appearance or behavior.
  • Extrinsic Incentive ErrorAn exception to the fundamental attribution error, when people view others as having (situational) extrinsic motivations and (dispositional) intrinsic motivations for oneself.
  • Illusion of External AgencyWhen people view self-generated preferences as instead being caused by insightful, effective and benevolent agents.
  • Illusion of Asymmetric InsightPeople perceive their knowledge of their peers to surpass their peers’ knowledge of them.

We simplify numbers and probabilities to make them easier to think about, such as:

  • Mental AccountingMental accounting, also known as “two-pocket” theory, is a behavioral bias that occurs when people put their money into separate categories, separating them into different mental accounts, based on, say, the source of the money, or the intent of the account.
  • Appeal to Probability FallacyAn appeal to probability (or appeal to possibility) is the logical fallacy of taking something for granted because it would probably be the case (or might possibly be the case).
  • Normalcy BiasThe refusal to plan for, or react to, a disaster which has never happened before.
  • Murphy’s LawThe tendency to think that everything that can go wrong, related to confirmation bias.
  • Zero-sum BiasA bias whereby a situation is incorrectly perceived to be like a zero-sum game (i.e., one person gains at the expense of another).
  • Survivorship BiasConcentrating on the people or things that “survived” some process and inadvertently overlooking those that didn’t because of their lack of visibility.
  • Subadditivity EffectThe tendency to judge probability of the whole to be less than the probabilities of the parts.
  • Denomination EffectThe tendency to spend more money when it is denominated in small amounts (e.g., coins) rather than large amounts (e.g., bills).
  • Magic NumberLists that are much longer than 7+-2 (Miller) or 4 (Cowan) become significantly harder to remember and process simultaneously.

We imagine things and people we’re familiar with or fond of as better, such as:

  • Out-group Homogeneity BiasIndividuals see members of their own group as being relatively more varied than members of other groups.
  • Cross-race EffectThe tendency for people of one race to have difficulty identifying members of a race other than their own.
  • In-group BiasThe tendency for people to give preferential treatment to others they perceive to be members of their own groups.
  • Halo EffectThe tendency for a person’s positive or negative traits to “spill over” from one personality area to another in others’ perceptions of them (see also physical attractiveness stereotype).
  • Cheerleader EffectThe tendency for people to appear more attractive in a group than in isolation.
  • Positivity EffectThat older adults favor positive over negative information in their memories.
  • Not Invented HereAversion to contact with or use of products, research, standards, or knowledge developed outside a group. Related to IKEA effect.
  • Reactive DevaluationDevaluing proposals only because they purportedly originated with an adversary.
  • Well-traveled Road EffectUnderestimation of the duration taken to traverse oft-traveled routes and overestimation of the duration taken to traverse less familiar routes.

We fill in characteristics from stereotypes, generalities, and prior histories, such as:

  • Group Attribution ErrorThe biased belief that the characteristics of an individual group member are reflective of the group as a whole or the tendency to assume that group decision outcomes reflect the preferences of group members, even when information is available that clearly suggests otherwise.
  • Ultimate Attribution ErrorSimilar to the fundamental attribution error, in this error a person is likely to make an internal attribution to an entire group instead of the individuals within the group.
  • StereotypingExpecting a member of a group to have certain characteristics without having actual information about that individual.
  • EssentialismThe view that every entity has a set of attributes that are necessary to its identity and function, or an ‘essence’.
  • Functional FixednessLimits a person to using an object only in the way it is traditionally used.
  • Moral Credential EffectOccurs when someone who does something good gives themselves permission to be less good in the future.
  • Just-world HypothesisThe tendency for people to want to believe that the world is fundamentally just, causing them to rationalize an otherwise inexplicable injustice as deserved by the victim(s).
  • Argument From FallacyThe formal fallacy of analyzing an argument and inferring that, since it contains a fallacy, its conclusion must be false.
  • Authority BiasThe tendency to attribute greater accuracy to the opinion of an authority figure (unrelated to its content) and be more influenced by that opinion.
  • Automation BiasThe tendency to depend excessively on automated systems which can lead to erroneous automated information overriding correct decisions.
  • Bandwagon EffectThe tendency to do (or believe) things because many other people do (or believe) the same. Related to groupthink and herd behavior.
  • Placebo EffectA beneficial effect produced by a placebo drug or treatment, which cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment.

We tend to find stories and patterns even when looking at sparse data, such as:

  • ConfabulationWhen we make decisions intuitively and nonconsciously, and rationalize the decisions after the fact.
  • Clustering IllusionThe tendency to overestimate the importance of small runs, streaks, or clusters in large samples of random data (that is, seeing phantom patterns).
  • Insensitivity to Sample SizeThe tendency to under-expect variation in small samples.
  • Neglect of ProbabilityThe tendency to completely disregard probability when making a decision under uncertainty.
  • Anecdotal FallacyWhen someone bases an argument on anecdotal evidence. Anecdotal evidence is evidence based solely on the personal experience of one person or a small number of people.
  • Illusion of ValidityBelieving that one’s judgments are accurate, especially when available information is consistent or inter-correlated.
  • Masked Man FallacyWhen one makes an illicit use of Leibniz’s law in an argument. Leibniz’s law states that, if one object has a certain property, while another object does not have the same property, the two objects cannot be identical.
  • Recency IllusionThe illusion that a phenomenon one has noticed only recently is itself recent. Often used to refer to linguistic phenomena; the illusion that a word or language usage that one has noticed only recently is an innovation when it is in fact long-established (see also frequency illusion).
  • Gambler’s FallacyThe tendency to think that future probabilities are altered by past events, when in reality they are unchanged. The fallacy arises from an erroneous conceptualization of the law of large numbers. For example, “I’ve flipped heads with this coin five times consecutively, so the chance of tails coming out on the sixth flip is much greater than heads.”
  • Hot-hand FallacyThe “hot-hand fallacy” (also known as the “hot hand phenomenon” or “hot hand”) is the belief that a person who has experienced success with a random event has a greater chance of further success in additional attempts.
  • Illusory CorrelationInaccurately perceiving a relationship between two unrelated events.
  • PareidoliaA vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) is perceived as significant, e.g., seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, and hearing non-existent hidden messages on records played in reverse.
  • AnthropomorphismThe tendency to characterize animals, objects, and abstract concepts as possessing human-like traits, emotions, and intentions.