"Even the most analytical thinkers are predictably irrational; the really smart ones acknowledge and address their irrationalities." – Dan Ariely.
The existence of cognitive biases is now widely accepted. Indeed, the evidence from countless studies in cognitive psychology, behavioral economics, and behavioral science is impossible to ignore even in our most irrational states.
It's all true, humans as irrational beings, often rationalising beings, driven by deep biases and on automatic pilot... but all is not lost.
Understanding our cognitive biases is a form of power. Afterall, they evolved because they delivered value and continue to do so in some contexts. We consciously call them 'heuristics' throughout ModelThinkers because they are not all bad, they allow you to understand quickly, make snap judgments, and spring into action in a very complex world.
That said, we also know that they are inherently limited and, in many situations, potentially disastrous which is why knowing about them can help to interrupt them. That's an important choice of words because they can't be stopped. Simply knowing about a bias will not prevent it. Instead, you will have to implement systems, processes, or techniques to actively interrupt them.
Beyond that, you can also make use of these heuristics in other people through the way you communicate, work, and engage.
So here is our growing guide to humanity, your brain, and to cognitive heuristics. Be sure to click into each one for techniques to make the most of them and interrupt your bias.
Note - some of these models are members only, but there are many unlocked ones so keep clicking into them.
This is your definite starting point. A foundational model to understand the automatic pilot/ path of least resistance that our thinking will take unless actively interrupted.
Of all the heuristics, this one really earns its name as a bias. Click into it for techniques to interrupt it, including a simple question you should be asking yourself each day.
Framing and the associated Framing Effect will define how you interpret information and make decisions. Click into the model to view examples and questions you can ask to defy Framing.
Very similar to Framing, Anchoring involves the large impact of initial information in defining everything. It has implications on bargaining and thinking more broadly. Find out how to make use of this heuristic and to interrupt it at key moments.
A strong partner to the Anchoring Heuristic, the Availability Heuristic is a great example of our brain taking the path of least resistance. Find out how to use it to your advantage in communications and marketing by clicking into the model.
This simple model has loads of implications for setting goals, incentives, and establishing habits. Accept it, and use it to drive your behaviour change.
Another model that can be used to create better change programs, communication, and marketing. Also, check out the In Practice section of this model to see a site created by behavioural economists that uses Loss Aversion to help you stick to your goals.
Linked to Loss Aversion, this heuristic helps to paint out our irrationality when it comes to things we own. Use this model to define your freemium strategy and marketing.
A close partner to the Endowment Heuristic, the IKEA Effect is a bias that leads us to overvalue things we help to create. Click in to the model to see how you can use it and interrupt it.
We say we want choice but the truth is we want ease and simplicity. Click into this model to find out more.
There is a difference between your 'experiencing self' and 'remembering self' – which means you can generate positive memories of a negative experience using this heuristic.
Cialdini was ahead of his time. His six principles inherently leverage a range of these cognitive biases and heuristics to better influence people - especially with social proof.
We tend to 'stereotype' people and things around us and that is a huge blocker when we try to innovate. Find out the alternative with this model.
Your brain strives for completeness and neat ends. The Zeigarnik Effect confounds that and can be used to increase engagement and learning.
The Halo Effect is your brain constructing mental models of people, things and companies based on incomplete information. It's a short cut and it will often lead to problems unless interrupted. There are lots of practical tips on how to interrupt it so click through to the summary.
Here's one particularly relevant for this period of Covid and vaccine rollout — pointing to the tendency to shift behaviour when perspectives on risk change, sometimes with counterintuitive and even disasterous effects.
We want to see patterns and know that the world is understandable and predictable... even when it's not. Use this model as an important reminder.
It's hard to step away from your previous investments — whether they are time, money, or energy. But this model is a reminder that you need to do just that.
Fortunately, some of our heuristics have potential payoffs and this is one of them. Using Temporal Landmarks will help you make the most of the Fresh Start Effect to drive change in yourself and others.
Finally, knowing that humans are in automatic pilot, this model is about designing better nudges to direct people in more positive directions.