What Is the Affect Heuristic? | Example & Definition

The affect heuristic occurs when our current emotional state or mood influences our decisions. Instead of evaluating the situation objectively, we rely on our “gut feelings” and respond according to how we feel. As a result, the affect heuristic can lead to suboptimal decision-making.

Example: Affect heuristic 
You have been applying for jobs for the past few months. Your last application successfully landed you an interview at a big tech company, but you didn’t make it to the second round of interviews.

You were very excited about the opportunity, and now you feel disheartened.

A friend forwards you another job posting for a similar position at a smaller company. You decide not to apply, even though you are qualified. Because of your state of mind, you feel that there is a good chance that you won’t get that job either.

Continue reading: What Is the Affect Heuristic? | Example & Definition

Representativeness Heuristic | Example & Definition

The representativeness heuristic occurs when we estimate the probability of an event based on how similar it is to a known situation. In other words, we compare it to a situation, prototype, or stereotype we already have in mind.

Representativeness heuristic example
You are sitting at a coffee shop and you notice a person in eccentric clothes reading a poetry book. If you had to guess whether that person is an accountant or a poet, most likely you would think that they are a poet. In reality, there are more accountants in the population than poets, which means that such a person is more likely to be an accountant.

Although representativeness provides a quick and efficient way to make decisions, it can cause us to overlook important information and draw incorrect conclusions.

Continue reading: Representativeness Heuristic | Example & Definition

What Is Anchoring Bias? | Definition & Examples

Anchoring bias describes people’s tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information they receive on a topic. Regardless of the accuracy of that information, people use it as a reference point, or anchor, to make subsequent judgments. Because of this, anchoring bias can lead to poor decisions in various contexts, such as salary negotiations, medical diagnoses, and purchases.

Example: Anchoring bias 
You are considering buying a used car, and you visit a car dealership. The dealer walks you around, showing you all the higher-priced cars, and you start worrying that you can’t afford a car after all.

Next, the car dealer walks you toward the back of the lot, where you see more affordable cars. Having seen all the expensive options, you think these cars seem like a good bargain. In reality, all the cars are overpriced. By showing you all the expensive cars first, the dealer has set an anchor, influencing your perception of the value of a used car.

Continue reading: What Is Anchoring Bias? | Definition & Examples

What Is the Framing Effect? | Definition & Examples

The framing effect occurs when people react differently to something depending on whether it is presented as positive or negative. In other words, our decision is influenced by how the information is presented rather than what is being said.

Example: Framing effect
While doing your groceries, you see two different beef products. Both cost and weigh exactly the same. One is labeled “80% lean” and the other “20% fat.”

Comparing the two, you feel that 20% fat sounds like an unhealthy option, so you choose the 80% lean option. In reality, there is no difference between the two products, but one sounds more appealing than the other due to the framing effect.

The framing effect can impact our decision-making skills and can be observed in a number of contexts and fields (e.g., psychology, political communication, and marketing).

Continue reading: What Is the Framing Effect? | Definition & Examples

The Availability Heuristic | Example & Definition

The availability heuristic occurs when we judge the likelihood of an event based on how easily we can recall similar events. If we can vividly remember instances of that event, we deem it to be more common than it actually is.

Example: Availability heuristic
When asked if falling airplane parts or shark attacks are a more likely cause of death in the United States, most people would say shark attacks. In reality, the chances of dying from falling airplane parts are 30 times greater than the chances of being killed by a shark.

People overestimate the risk of shark attacks because there are far more news stories and movies about them. As a result, images of shark attacks are easier to bring to mind. If you can quickly think of multiple examples of something happening, then you are tricked into thinking it must happen often.

Due to the availability heuristic, our perception of reality can be distorted. This can lead to poor decision-making (especially when assessing risks) and to a few types of research bias, including recall bias.

Continue reading: The Availability Heuristic | Example & Definition

What Is the Halo Effect? | Definition & Examples

The halo effect occurs when our overall positive impression of a person, product, or brand is based on a single characteristic. If our first impression is positive, the subsequent judgments we make will be colored by this first impression.

Example: Halo effect
The halo effect is a common bias in performance appraisals. Supervisors often evaluate the overall performance of an employee on the basis of a single prominent characteristic. If an employee shows enthusiasm, this may influence the supervisor’s judgment, even if the employee lacks knowledge or competence in some areas. This may lead the supervisor to give them a higher rating due to their enthusiasm.

Because of the halo effect, one positive characteristic may overshadow all other aspects of the employee’s performance.

The halo effect can hamper our ability to think critically. It can be particularly problematic in decision-making contexts, such as job interviews and purchase decisions.

Continue reading: What Is the Halo Effect? | Definition & Examples

What Is Information Bias? | Definition & Examples

Information bias is a type of error that occurs when key study variables are incorrectly measured or classified. Information bias can affect the findings of observational or experimental studies due to systematic differences in how data is obtained from various study groups.

Example: Information bias
Studies of rare or newly discovered diseases that do not have uniform diagnostic criteria are at risk for information bias. In the absence of a common standard, people who do not have a disease may be classified as having it, and vice versa.

Information bias is also known as measurement bias or misclassification.

Continue reading: What Is Information Bias? | Definition & Examples

What Is Self-Selection Bias? | Definition & Example

Self-selection bias (also called volunteer bias) refers to the bias that can occur when individuals are allowed to choose whether they want to participate in a research study. Because participants often differ from nonparticipants in ways significant to the research, self-selection can lead to a biased sample and affects the generalizability of your results.

Example: Self-selection bias 
Suppose you are surveying high school English students. You ask them to rate the books they read throughout the academic year, but you make participation optional.

Because of that, students who either strongly enjoyed or hated the books are more likely to fill in the survey. Students who didn’t feel strongly about the books are less likely to participate in the survey.

As a result, your sample will comprise mostly those with strong opinions and will not be representative of all students. By allowing students to choose whether to participate, you have allowed self-selection bias to occur.

Continue reading: What Is Self-Selection Bias? | Definition & Example

What Is Cognitive Bias? | Definition, Types, & Examples

Cognitive bias is the tendency to act in an irrational way due to our limited ability to process information objectively. It is not always negative, but it can cloud our judgment and affect how clearly we perceive situations, people, or potential risks.

Example: Cognitive bias
One common manifestation of cognitive bias is the stereotype that women are less competent or less committed to their jobs. These stereotypes may linger in managers’ subconscious, influencing their hiring and promoting decisions. This, in turn, can lead to workplace discrimination.

Everyone is susceptible to cognitive bias, and researchers are no exception to that. Therefore, cognitive bias can be a source of research bias.

Continue reading: What Is Cognitive Bias? | Definition, Types, & Examples

What Is Undercoverage Bias? | Definition & Example

Undercoverage bias occurs when a part of the population is excluded from your sample. As a result, the sample is no longer representative of the target population. Non-probability sampling designs are susceptible to this type of research bias.

Example: Undercoverage bias
You are conducting research by randomly calling landline numbers. Because of your sampling method, individuals who only have mobile phones are not sampled. In this case, they are not merely undercovered, but not covered at all.

Undercoverage is a type of selection bias.

Continue reading: What Is Undercoverage Bias? | Definition & Example