A cognitive bias refers to the systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment, whereby inferences about other people and situations may be drawn in an illogical fashion.
A continually evolving list of cognitive biases has been identified over the last six decades of research on human judgment and decision-making in cognitive science, social psychology, and behavioral economics. Kahneman and Tversky (1996) argue that cognitive biases have efficient practical implications for areas including clinical judgment, entrepreneurship, finance, and management.
Individuals create their own “subjective social reality” from their perception of the input. An individual’s construction of social reality, not the objective input, may dictate their behavior in the social world. Thus, cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality.
Cognitive biases may lead to more effective actions in a given context. Furthermore, cognitive biases enable faster decisions when timeliness is more valuable than accuracy, as illustrated in heuristics. Other cognitive biases are a “by-product” of human processing limitations, resulting from a lack of appropriate mental mechanisms (bounded rationality), or simply from a limited capacity for information processing.
Cognitive Bias arises from various processes that are sometimes difficult to distinguish. These include
- information-processing shortcuts (heuristics)
- noisy information processing (distortions in the process of storage in and retrieval from memory)
- the brain’s limited information processing capacity
- emotional and moral motivations
Creatives are intuitively aware of our cognitive biases and will often use these predilections, albeit without necessarily being aware of what they are called, to influence and manipulate the emotional, cultural and behavioral responses of their audiences. The ability to design (or craft a future) is often the ability to empathize with and identify with the audience, in the same way as an actor will approach a role by identifying the motivations of the character.