Positive Stereotypes Are Pervasive and Powerful

Pop quiz: hands up — how many of you think positive stereotypes are OK? I suspect that for many of you, your first reaction may have been, “well, yeah, they’re positive, right?” I can totally empathize with that shortcut, but consider this excellent quote from Gordon Allport, one of the “founders” of personality psychology: “People may […]

Choice Architecture: Even in “Heads or Tails,” It Matters What’s Presented First

If you’re familiar with behavioural economics, then the results of this study will be right up your alley. The researchers set out to determine whether there was a “first-toss Heads bias.” Meaning, when flipping a coin and the choices are presented “Heads or Tails,” there would be a bias towards people guessing “Heads” (because it was presented first). Through running their […]

The Most Common Biases in Business Decisions

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll know that one of topics that I write about the most is cognitive biases. So, when I came across an article on the Harvard Business Review that neatly wrapped up some of the more common biases in business decisions, I just had to comment on it. I agree […]

The Sunk Cost Trap on TV: Fitzgerald Grant and Olivia Pope

A few months ago on the popular TV series “Scandal,” the fictional President of the United States fell into the sunk cost trap: We have to get Olivia back, not just because I love her, not just because having her out there is a threat to national security. There are soldiers who are never coming home […]

Is “A” Really the Best Option or is it Just that It’s Better Than “B”: List of Biases in Judgment and Decision-Making, Part 18

The other day, someone was talking to me about my series on biases in judgment and decision-making and it made me realize that I was missing a rather important bias — the contrast effect! I’m not sure how this one slipped through the cracks, but I’m glad to be able to write about it for you today. It’s been almost […]

How Smartphones Can Lead to Better Parents

Over three years ago, I wrote a post about cell phone etiquette. At the time I wrote that, I wouldn’t have guessed that three years later, I’d be considering the possibility that smartphones could actually lead to better parents. But that’s exactly what this post is about. The stereotype goes that many parents will bring their children […]

A New Way to Use Pinterest: Financial Charts

I don’t remember when I first signed up for Pinterest, but I do remember that when I did, I had “big” plans of using the site to create a vision board. As you can see from my Pinterest page, I haven’t used it since I signed up. There are any number of explanations I could offer […]

“Julia Lost on Jeopardy Because I Watched Live”

A few weeks ago, there was a contestant on Jeopardy that made quite a run. She didn’t break any of Ken Jennings’ records, but she certainly set a few records for females on Jeopardy. In fact, Julia Collins now has the record for the longest winning streak by a woman (and also the second longest winning streak — male or […]

How Do We Free Magneto From the Pentagon: A Lesson in Functional Fixedness

I don’t know if you’ve had the chance to see the new X-Men movie — I rather liked it. There was a scene in the movie that presents a wonderful example of functional fixedness, depending upon your familiarity with the story. Before moving on, I should remind you of the meaning of functional fixedness. Essentially, it’s the […]

How You Probably Discriminate and Don’t Even Know It

Are you a part of a group at work, school, or recreationally? Well, then you’ve probably discriminated without even knowing it. A recent theoretical review of the literature concluded “ingroup favouritism is more potent than outgroup hostility” when it comes to discrimination in the United States. Meaning, preferential treatment to the people that are on your team contributes to […]