Now I Understand Why They Didn’t Choose My Design

I always wonder what I could have done differently when one of my designs fails to make the grade. Usually I just blame it on things out of my control like solar flares or the global warming. That was until today when I learned people have 26 different decision-making and behavioral biases referred to as Cognitive Biases and it’s one of these that did me in. (or one of the 23 Probability and Belief biases or 18 Social biases…read on)

What is a Cognitive Bias?

Cognitive Bias is distortion in the way humans perceive reality. Some of these have been verified empirically in the field of psychology, others are considered general categories of bias.

Many of these biases are studied for how they affect belief formation and business decisions and scientific research. Following are few examples, but for a complete list go to Wikipedia.

Bandwagon effect — the tendency to do (or believe) things because many other people do (or believe) the same. Related to groupthink, herd behaviour, and manias.

Bias blind spot — the tendency not to compensate for one’s own cognitive biases.

Choice-supportive bias — the tendency to remember one’s choices as better than they actually were.

Confirmation bias — the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.

Congruence bias — the tendency to test hypotheses exclusively through direct testing, in contrast to tests of possible alternative hypotheses.

Contrast effect — the enhancement or diminishment of a weight or other measurement when compared with recently observed contrasting object. etc

It doesn’t end there. There are also 23 biases in Probability and Belief and 18 Social Biases.

So here is how I am going to explain my last marketing defeat:

My client, hyperbolically discounts my work having a stronger preference for more immediate payoffs relative to later payoffs, the closer to the present both payoffs are and due to the Primacy effect or the tendency to weigh initial events more than subsequent events and their perception their knowledge of their peers surpasses their peers’ knowledge of them or an Illusion of asymmetric insight…and they didn’t like my work.

Now that feels better.

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