The Cognitive Bias Codex

The Cognitive Bias Codex

A cognitive bias is a mental pattern that breaks from logic, reason, and the ability to rationally judge something through the filter of facts and reality. It is when an individual’s thinking is so clouded by their own subjective reality, memories, and experience that they are unable to interpret new information correctly. A cognitive bias can cause someone to ignore reality in favor of their own preconceived belief system and internal reality. A cognitive bias can take the form of emotional irrationality, inaccurate judgements, and deciding to ignore new facts and information that doesn’t align with a chosen world view. 

Sometimes cognitive biases are adaptive mental models to avoid pain, social rejection, or to continue to hold religious or political beliefs that have already been committed to. They can lead to some strengths in certain situations like stubbornness to reach goals that seemed impossible or a clarity of focus to stay on one path until completion. They can enable fast decisions as little thinking is required when choosing preconceived beliefs. However a cognitive bias can create huge weaknesses and blind spots in knowledge and cause a lack of research with learning and growing as beliefs override the need for seeking the truth. 

They can be identified in many different ways.

Examples of basic cognitive biases include:

  • A bias can be directed at specific groups of people instead of looking at each member as an individual person.
  • A bias can affect proper decision-making on something you already possess due to sunk costs fallacy.
  • A bias can cause a person to be fooled by randomness by seeing unrelated correlation in patterns that are coincidence. 
  • A consistency bias can have an affect on memory making you think you were the same in the past as you are today.
  • An egocentric bias can cause the rejection or denial of personal negative feedback when a person holds a belief in a positive self image so blindly that it is protected from new information that doesn’t fit the ego filter. 
  • Many biases cause people to ignore new information, feedback, facts, and reality. 
  • Some biases cause a decision to be affected by things that do not matter. 
  • The framing effect will cause a similar problem to have different actions to respond to it depending on how it is understood in different contexts, during different moods, or who it effects. 
  • The distinction bias causes decisions that are made at one time to have different choices than if they are made separately at different times and in different individual situations. 
  • The anchoring effect gives more meaning to a less important part of a problem just because it happened more recently in a chain of events. 

Beware of cognitive biases as they are the biggest causes of making less than ideal decisions in situations as they filter facts and information through a very limited decision making process. Developing the mental and emotional equanimity to see above your own preconceived beliefs, experiences, ego, fears, and greed is a super power. 

Below is a list of 188 cognitive biases, grouped into categories and rendered by John Manoogian III.

The Cognitive Bias Codex
design: John Manoogian III categories and descriptions: Buster Benson implementation: TilmannR / CC BY-SA (