Mental bias

A source of blunders

A mental bias is a way of thinking, feeling and making decisions
that is not fully rational and that can bring suboptimal or harmful
effects.

That is why it is useful to be aware of the various kinds of such
cognitive and emotional flaws in order to avoid to fall in their traps.

brain danger Blunders by our neurons

A mental bias is
an usual way of thinking, feeling and
decision decision making that is not fully rational (error prone)
and thus can produce

* reasoning mistakes or fallacies

* flawed decisions (blunders, let us say),

        * unfit behaviors (negative behavioral biases)

which effects would be
suboptimal or even harmful
...unless luck, serendipity or
counter moves save the
day!

Actually, nobody, sorry for you and me, can be always perfectly
rational.
Another thing is that some biases can be positive and helpful in some
situations.

But to know how mental biases work can help us to limit
the most damaging flaws or at least their effects
.

Those phenomena, are studied academically, as a set of knowledge
called "bounded rationality" a phrase that was coined by
Herbert Simon).

Types of mental biases

Blunders are available in all flavors.

What are behind those behaviors are cognitive, emotional or
reflexive
distortasymm distortions. They affect not only individuals
but are also collectively contagious.

To spot those bugs is a matter of hygiene !


Mental biases affect cognition, emotion and reflexes.
They include:
(arranging facts into wrong categories or inventing false
explanations).
and simplified reasonings, a bit like fast cooking recipes),
(single idea, black or white opinion, generalization from
one aspect only)
  • Flawed reasoning, logical fallacies and confusions.
  • Memory distortions or decay.
(here the mental process is bypassed) ,
  • Cases when personal emotions, pleasant or unpleasant, 
override sound reasoning (*),
  • Thinking mimicry and conformity of ideas,
as some mental biases tend to become collective,
and reciprocally
, as social  biases (i.e. common
stereotypes / representations) influence
individual
ones,
  • Even spells of full contagious hysteria,
in a whole group, crowd or society

(*) Neurosciences have explored how such conflicts take place
      physically within the brain.
      They are detected in specific neuronal areas, and
also inner
      chemical
  secretions and electric waves that influence their
      activations and connections.

Practical consequences

Those various biases usually lead to:
  • Perception, analysis and decision error mistakes,
  • As a result, suboptimal or counterproductive action behaviors
in other words maladapted moves. Some of those biases, whether
they are just personal or more widespread, can do harm :
  • as well to the individual involved, it can be you or me,
  • as to a whole group or society, this time you and me.

For more details,

See the Behavioral bias article as a
behavioral bias is a mental bias ...put in practice.

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M.a.j. / updated : 08 July 2015
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