Identify biases in the digital world for a more open and aware mind

Share on

Identify digital biases for a freer and more sagacious mind, and for a conscious and informed life.


Cognitive biases

In everyday life we ​​need to make decisions based on our perception of reality. However, the way we process information is highly influenced by shortcuts, termed “cognitive biases”. These biases represent efficient solutions, but can lead to a high risk of error dictated by simplification. In this article, we will tell you about some biases, related to the digital world, which can have an impact on our daily lives.

Anchor effect

Imagine visiting an e-commerce to buy a new smartphone. On the product page, notice that the initial price has been crossed out and replaced by a discounted price. While the discounted price may still be high, you may perceive the offer as attractive due to the pegging to the higher initial price.

The world’s largest practical example of the application of this bias was implemented by Steve Jobs in the launch of the iPad. In the initial presentation video, the price of $999 was present. At the end of the presentation, however, Steve Jobs himself will announce the price of the iPad at $499, generating an incredible perception of opportunity.

Confirmation bias

In the event that you have a prejudicial opinion on a certain topic, you could actively search for information on the web that confirms your opinion and ignore those that contradict it. If you are convinced that a particular diet is effective, you might pay attention only to blogs and testimonials that support the benefits, ignoring scientific evidence to the contrary. The example of the case of the moon landing is striking.

The 1969 moon landing conspiracy theory suggests that the Apollo 11 astronauts never landed on the moon. Despite the numerous scientific evidence supporting the moon landing, proponents of this theory ignore this evidence and seek confirmation in alleged clues and inconsistencies in images or testimonies.

Perspective effect

While searching for a hotel online, you may be influenced by the reviews of other users. If a property has numerous positive reviews, you may be more inclined to book it, even if it doesn’t quite match your preferences. Conversely, if a property has few or some negative reviews, you are more inclined to exclude it even though it may be an option closer to your needs. A famous example of the perspective effect is the endowment effect” (or property effect) proposed by Daniel Kahneman, Nobel prize winner for economics, together with Richard Thaler.

In this experiment, participants were asked to imagine that they were participating in a charity auction where they were being offered tickets to a very popular concert. Everyone had the opportunity to bid for the ticket, but some people receive it immediately while others participate without having it.

Kahneman and Thaler found that those who received the ticket initially (i.e., “endowees”) tended to rate the value of the ticket higher than those who did not receive it (i.e., “non-endowees”). As a result, endowees were willing to pay a higher price to get another ticket than non-endowees who valued the ticket more objectively.

Availability bias

When using a search engine to search for information on a topic, the first few pages of results can influence perceptions about the relevance and authority of the information. If a site appears in the first results, you can assume that the information is more accurate than those on subsequent pages.

Unfortunately, this perception is not always true. Another example: Imagine you are seeing a large number of news stories about a plane crash on television or on social media. The incident was covered extensively in the media and attracted great public attention. Later, you may develop an exaggerated perception of the likelihood of having an accident when traveling by plane.

Anecdote effect

While other people’s reviews are a valuable resource for evaluating a product or service online, it’s important to remember that a single testimonial may not represent everyone’s experience. If a user has had a negative experience with a product, they can share their story in an extremely negative way, leading other people to avoid that product, even for elements other than their own experience, even though the majority of users have had positive experiences.

In conclusion we can say that cognitive biases are insidious elements that can influence our ability to make rational decisions. Knowing and identifying them in our daily lives can help us make more informed decisions and develop a more open and flexible mindset. Let’s remember that no one is immune from these biases, but we can learn to recognize them and mitigate their impact to improve our ability to think critically and rationally.

Share on
3 July 2023 Luca Martorano

Related articles:

TAG: user testing