What is an availability heuristic example in everyday life?

The availability heuristic can influence our perception of risk in everyday life. One common example occurs when we are considering buying insurance. The sharp increase in purchases of flood insurance in the aftermath of flood events illustrates this phenomenon.

Witnessing such events, knowing someone who was personally affected, or extensive media coverage can make us more aware of floods (or make floods more “available” to us). This can change our risk perception, even though statistically there may not be a change in the probabilities of future flooding.

What is the difference between belief bias and confirmation bias?

Belief bias and confirmation bias are both types of cognitive bias that impact our judgment and decision-making.

Confirmation bias relates to how we perceive and judge evidence. We tend to seek out and prefer information that supports our preexisting beliefs, ignoring any information that contradicts those beliefs.

Belief bias describes the tendency to judge an argument based on how plausible the conclusion seems to us, rather than how much evidence is provided to support it during the course of the argument.

What is the bandwagon effect?

The bandwagon effect is a type of cognitive bias. It describes the tendency of people to adopt behaviors or opinions simply because others are doing so, regardless of their own beliefs.

What are common types of cognitive bias?

Cognitive bias is an umbrella term used to describe the different ways in which our beliefs and experiences impact our judgment and decision making. These preconceptions are “mental shortcuts” that help us speed up how we process and make sense of new information.

However, this tendency may lead us to misunderstand events, facts, or other people. Cognitive bias can be a source of research bias.

Some common types of cognitive bias are:

How does a funnel plot measure publication bias?

A funnel plot shows the relation between a study’s effect size and its precision. It is a scatter plot of the treatment effects estimated from individual studies (horizontal axis) against sample size (vertical axis).

Asymmetry in the funnel plot, measured using regression analysis, is an indication of publication bias. In the absence of bias, results from small studies will scatter widely at the bottom of the graph, with the spread narrowing among larger studies.

The idea here is that small studies are more likely to remain unpublished if their results are nonsignificant or unfavorable, whereas larger studies get published regardless. This leads to asymmetry in the funnel plot.

funnel plots for publication bias

What’s the difference between confirmation bias and recall bias?

Confirmation bias is the tendency to search, interpret, and recall information in a way that aligns with our pre-existing values, opinions, or beliefs. It refers to the ability to recollect information best when it amplifies what we already believe. Relatedly, we tend to forget information that contradicts our opinions.

Although selective recall is a component of confirmation bias, it should not be confused with recall bias.

On the other hand, recall bias refers to the differences in the ability between study participants to recall past events when self-reporting is used. This difference in accuracy or completeness of recollection is not related to beliefs or opinions. Rather, recall bias relates to other factors, such as the length of the recall period, age, and the characteristics of the disease under investigation.

Why are placebos used in research?

Placebos are used in medical research for new medication or therapies, called clinical trials. In these trials some people are given a placebo, while others are given the new medication being tested.

The purpose is to determine how effective the new medication is: if it benefits people beyond a predefined threshold as compared to the placebo, it’s considered effective and not the result of a placebo effect.

What causes the placebo effect?

Although there is no definite answer to what causes the placebo effect, researchers propose a number of explanations such as the power of suggestion, doctor-patient interaction, classical conditioning, etc.

What is the difference between response and nonresponse bias?

Response bias is a general term used to describe a number of different conditions or factors that cue respondents to provide inaccurate or false answers during surveys or interviews. These factors range from the interviewer’s perceived social position or appearance to the the phrasing of questions in surveys.

Nonresponse bias occurs when the people who complete a survey are different from those who did not, in ways that are relevant to the research topic. Nonresponse can happen because people are either not willing or not able to participate.