Lesson 16: Cognitive bias

What is bias?

Bias is the inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair. Cognitive bias is when one makes a bias through the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.

Types of cognitive biases to discuss in ToK:

Introspection illusion, prejudice, confirmation bias, in attentional blindness, hindsight bias, availability bias, affect heuristic, the halo effect, sunk cost fallacy, the just world fallacy and attribution bias.

Today, I will be discussing about Attribution bias:

Attribution is the inferences that people make about the causes of events or behaviours. Attribution bias is when people have a tendency to assume or guess that a person’s actions or their results depend on what ‘kind’ of person that person is rather than on the social and environmental forces influencing the person.

Over the course of a typical day a person probably makes numerous attributions about their own behavior as well as that of the people around them. This act may be either a conscious or unconscious act. Even though one may be conscious of making attributions about themselves or others, they are still most likely to continue doing so.

Example of attribution bias:

The most typical example of attribution bias is when you get a poor grade on a quiz, you might blame the teacher for not adequately explaining the material, completely dismissing the fact that you didn’t study as much as you should or could have. However, when a classmate gets a great grade on that same quiz, you might attribute their good performance to luck, neglecting the fact that they most likely studied a lot for that test.

Pros on attribution bias:

  • Raises self esteem

Cons on attribution bias:

  • Self- serving



The psychology of attribution 


One thought on “Lesson 16: Cognitive bias”

  1. This is excellent Tamaki. I like the addition of a bibliography. Please remember to not only use your blog as a reflective ‘diary’ but to also use it as a way to build a bank of links and resources for a later date. That way you will have ready access to a whole range of resources when you have to prepare your presentation and essay. Also take time to tag each post with key words, AOKs and WOKs. This will help you to search your site to retrieve relevant resources etc. Great post! The image adds value too!

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