What Is Normalcy Bias? | Definition & Example

Normalcy bias is the tendency to underestimate the likelihood or impact of a negative event. Normalcy bias prevents us from understanding the possibility or the seriousness of a crisis or a natural disaster.

Example: Normalcy bias
Officials issue a hurricane warning in your area, advising everyone to evacuate their homes. On your way out, you run into your neighbor, who has no intention of leaving because they believe it is “just another storm.” Their conviction that it’s not going to be that bad and their refusal to heed the warnings are signs of normalcy bias.

Because normalcy bias can lead us to believe that nothing serious is going to happen, we may not take appropriate or adequate preparations for a crisis and might put ourselves at risk.

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What Is Correspondence Bias? | Definition & Example

Correspondence bias is the tendency to form assumptions about a person’s character based on their behavior. When we try to explain why people act in a certain way, we often focus on personality traits, underestimating the power of specific situations to lead to specific behaviors. In other words, people are inclined to think that others’ actions reflect their personality.

Correspondence bias example
You are driving in heavy rain, and you notice another driver in your rearview window speeding and overtaking other cars. Because of correspondence bias, you are more likely to assume that they are a reckless driver, when perhaps it’s the case that they are rushing to the hospital.

As a result, we are more likely to react negatively to people and hold them directly accountable for their actions, even if this may not be the case.

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What Is Overconfidence Bias? | Definition & Examples

Overconfidence bias is the tendency to overestimate our knowledge and abilities in a certain area. As people often possess incorrect ideas about their performance, behavior, or characteristics, their estimations of risk and success often deviate from reality.

Example: Overconfidence bias
College students often overestimate how quickly they can finish writing a paper and are forced to pull an all-nighter when they realize it takes longer than expected. This is overconfidence bias at play.

Overconfidence bias can impact decision-making and interfere with our ability to exercise caution.

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What Is the Egocentric Bias? | Definition & Examples

The egocentric bias refers to people’s tendency to fixate on their own perspective when examining events or beliefs. Under the egocentric bias, we see things as being more centered on ourselves than is actually the case. This results in a distorted view of reality that makes it difficult for us to acknowledge other people’s perspectives and feelings.

Example: The egocentric bias
You are asked to give a welcome speech to new students. As you start talking, you notice how nervous you feel, and you assume that your nervousness is obvious to others because of your movements or your shaky voice. This thought increases your stress even more.

However, in reality none of this is obvious to your audience. In fact, they are more stressed out because this is their first day of school. The egocentric bias causes you to focus on your own anxieties and fail to see things from the other person’s point of view.

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What Is Status Quo Bias? | Definition & Examples

Status quo bias refers to people’s preference for keeping things the way they currently are. Under status quo bias, people perceive change as a risk or a loss. Because of this, they try to maintain the current situation. This can impact the quality of their decisions.

Example: Status quo bias
You are having dinner with your friends at a restaurant you go to often. Looking at the menu, you feel tempted to try a new dish. However, you are really hungry, and you don’t want to risk choosing something you don’t like.

Because of status quo bias, you want to be on the safe side. You order the same dish as you always do, rather than take the risk on a new (and potentially tastier) option.

Status quo bias can create resistance to change, hinder progress, or cause us to miss out on valuable opportunities.

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What Is Bias for Action? | Definition & Examples

Bias for action (also called action bias) is the tendency to favor action over inaction. Because of bias for action, we often feel compelled to act, even when we don’t have all the information we need or are uncertain about the outcome.

Example: Bias for action
Suppose that you are a sales representative and your team is under pressure to meet the monthly sales quota. Here are two possible scenarios:

  • When you realize that you are not on track to meet your goals, you feel frustrated. However, since you are not the head of the department, there’s nothing you can do. You wait for instructions, hoping that your supervisor will figure something out.
  • When you realize that you are not on track to meet your goals, you immediately take on more responsibility and start cold-calling. Because of your quick response, your team meets its goals for the month.

In the second scenario, you clearly showed bias for action. 

Depending on the situation, bias for action can be beneficial for our personal and professional growth. It can also cause us to act impulsively.

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What Is Perception Bias? | Definition & Examples

Perception bias is the tendency to perceive ourselves and our environment in a subjective way. Although we like to think our judgment is impartial, we are, in fact, unconsciously influenced by our assumptions and expectations.

Example: Perception bias
After a few weeks at your new job, you notice that some of your colleagues always go for after-work drinks on Fridays. It’s not an official team event, but each week the same person asks who’s joining and books a table. However, no one ever asks the older colleagues to join, assuming that they won’t be interested.

If left unchecked, perception bias can affect how we evaluate ourselves and others. As a result, we may form inaccurate impressions.This, in turn, can impact the quality of our decision-making.

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What Is Conformity Bias? | Definition & Examples

Conformity bias is the tendency to change one’s beliefs or behavior to fit in with others. Instead of using their own judgment, individuals often take cues from the group they are with, belong to, or seek to belong to about what is right or appropriate. They then adapt their own behavior accordingly.

Example: Conformity bias 
Your friends are making plans for an upcoming concert that they are very excited about. Last time they went to a concert, they were talking about it for a week afterwards, and you felt left out because you did not go with them. Although you are not really keen on that kind of music, you decide to join them this time so as not to feel left out.

Although conforming to social norms is not bad in and of itself, giving in to peer pressure can cause us to adopt opinions and behaviors that are unethical, illegal, or unfair to those who are not part of the group.

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What Is Unconscious Bias? | Definition & Examples

Unconscious bias refers to the automatic associations and reactions that arise when we encounter a person or group. Instead of maintaining neutrality, we tend to associate positive or negative stereotypes with certain groups and let these biases influence our behavior towards them.

Example: Unconscious bias
You are walking home from a get-together with friends at night-time. You notice a figure wearing dark clothing coming your way. You immediately feel danger, and rush to cross the street. You then see the person pull something that looks like a weapon out of their pocket, causing you to break into a run. Looking back, you realise your mistake: the person was simply answering their phone.

Unconscious bias can lead to discriminatory behavior in healthcare, the workplace, educational settings, and beyond.

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What Is Self-Serving Bias? | Definition & Example

Self-serving bias is the tendency to attribute our successes to internal, personal factors, and our failures to external, situational factors. In other words, we like to take credit for our triumphs, but we are more likely to blame others or circumstances for our shortcomings.

Example: Self-serving bias 
Α student who performs well on an exam may ascribe their success to their excellent preparation and intelligence. In the case of a poor performance, the same student would likely think that the exam was too difficult or that the questions did not correspond to the material taught.

Self-serving bias prevents us from learning from our mistakes.This can distort our self-perception and significantly impair our ability to reflect on negative outcomes. Self-serving bias is evident when explaining our behavior in various contexts, such as job performance, sports, or even driving ability.

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