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Cognitive Biases and Bayesian reasoning

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In the past four decades, behavioral economists and cognitive psychologists have discovered many cognitive biases human brains fall prey to when thinking and deciding. Cognitive biases are tendencies to think in certain ways that can lead to systematic deviations from a standard of rationality or good judgment. These biases arise from errors of memory, social attribution, and miscalculations such as statistical errors or a false sense of probability. Some social psychologists believe our cognitive biases help us process information more efficiently, especially in dangerous situations. Still, they lead us to make grave mistakes. We may be prone to such errors in judgment, but at least we can be aware of them.

Bayesian reasoning offers a way to improve on the native human reasoning style. Reasoning naively, we tend not to seek alternative explanations, and sometimes underrate the influence of prior probabilities in Bayes' theorem.

Credits: Wikipedia, LessWrong.org

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Cognitive Biases and Bayesian reasoning

  1. 1. COGNITIVE BIASES How our minds trick us
  2. 2. What are Cognitive Biases? • They are rules of thumb that help us make sense of the world and reach decisions with relative speed. Often a result of our attempt to simplify information processing. • They allow us to reach decisions quickly, which can be vital if we are facing a dangerous or threatening situation. • May lead to more effective actions in a given context. • Enable faster decisions when timeliness is more valuable than accuracy (heuristics).
  3. 3. But wait…that sounds VERY NICE!
  4. 4. What are Cognitive Biases? • Sometimes they trip us up, leading to poor decisions, perceptual distortion, flaws in judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality. • They arise from errors of memory, social attribution, and miscalculations (such as statistical errors or a false sense of probability). • They are similar to optical illusions: the error remains compelling even when one is fully aware of its nature. Therefore, they are difficult to overcome :-(
  5. 5. What causes a Cognitive Bias? • Limits on the mind's ability to process information. • Heuristics, or information-processing shortcuts. • Social pressure / social influence. • Individual motivations. • Emotional or moral motivations.
  6. 6. Types of Cognitive Biases
  7. 7. SocialBiases
  8. 8. MemoryBiases
  9. 9. Decision-makingBiases
  10. 10. Decision-makingBiases
  11. 11. Decision-makingBiases
  12. 12. Decision-makingBiases
  13. 13. Decision-makingBiases
  14. 14. ProbabilityBiases
  15. 15. ProbabilityBiases
  16. 16. ProbabilityBiases
  17. 17. ProbabilityBiases
  18. 18. REDUCING COGNITIVE BIAS CBMT and Bayesian Reasoning
  19. 19. Cognitive Bias Modification Therapy • Process of modifying cognitive biases and changing mental habits in healthy people. • Encourages individuals to use controlled processing compared to automatic processing. • Technology assisted therapies that are delivered via a computer with minimal supervision. Do not require meetings with a therapist. • CBMT programs are very simple and seem like a repetitive computer game. - demanding and + acceptable to patients than traditional therapies.
  20. 20. Bayesian Reasoning Bayes’ Theorem If cause A might be the reason for symptom X, then we have to take into account both: • The probability that A caused X (found, roughly, by multiplying the frequency of A with the chance that A causes X) • The probability that anything else caused X.
  21. 21. Bayesian Reasoning A mindset that takes these three tenets fully into account: 1. Any given observation has many different possible causes. 2. How we interpret any event, and the new information we get from anything, depends on information we already had. 3. We can use the concept of probability to measure our subjective belief in something.