JCrete2013:Cognitive Biases

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Cognitive Biases: How we get tricked by our brain
Convenor: Angelo D' Agnano
Cognitive Biases - JCrete2013

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Cognitive biases, What they are and why they matter (also) in software development.

Systematic deviations from standard rationality or good judgement committed by our cognition.

The human brain makes operations which solve cognitive tasks through ‘shortcuts’, that work well on some cases but fail in others.

The cognitive modules that make those tasks are universals in the human species, how and where those shortcuts lead to mistakes are also regular.

We tend to make mistakes for two reasons: We do not think “well” or We do not think enough.

A heuristic is a quick, intuitive strategy for reasoning or decision making, as opposed to more formal methods.

These are the biases that I found most common for software developers (just my perception)

  • Survivor(ship) bias
  • Ambiguity effect
  • Confirmation bias
  • Attentional bias
  • Hindsight Bias
  • Conjunction fallacy
  • Status quo bias
  • Sunk cost fallacy

Literature documents about 100 biases.


Awareness of the bias has no effect on people. Actually smart people tend to be more biased than others, watch out!


Interesting books:

  • Thinking Fast and Slow [1]
  • Predictably Irrational [2]
  • You are not so smart [3]