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  • Writer's pictureAJ Cheponis

The Hidden Influencers: How Cognitive Biases Impact Your Business Decisions

Cognitive bias is a fascinating and complex phenomenon that can have a profound impact on our decision-making and behavior. At its core, cognitive bias refers to a systematic error in thinking or decision-making that can lead to incorrect judgments or decisions. These biases are often unconscious and can affect how we perceive, process, and remember information.


While some cognitive biases can be helpful in allowing us to make quick decisions based on limited information, many can lead to errors in judgment and discrimination. Therefore, it is important to be aware of these biases and develop strategies to overcome them.



Confirmation Bias:

One of the most common cognitive biases is confirmation bias, which leads us to seek out and remember information that confirms our pre-existing beliefs, while ignoring evidence that contradicts them.


Imagine a business leader who has always believed in a particular marketing strategy may only seek out information that confirms their belief in the strategy, while ignoring evidence that contradicts it. In a human resources context, a hiring manager may only see positive qualities in a job candidate who went to the same university as them, while ignoring other qualifications that may be more important for the role.


To combat this bias, it is important to seek out information that challenges our beliefs, consider alternative explanations for information, and encourage others to challenge our assumptions.



Availability Heuristic Bias:

Another common bias is the availability heuristic bias, which leads us to make quick decisions based on easily accessible information.


An example might be, a manager who is deciding which employee to promote may base their decision on the most recent project they worked on, even though there may be other factors to consider. In a human resources context, an interviewer may make a quick judgment about a candidate based on their appearance or how well they answer one question, without considering the full range of information available.


To overcome this bias, it is important to gather information from a variety of sources, consider information that is less accessible or memorable, and avoid relying solely on our memory.



Anchoring Bias:

Anchoring bias is another bias that can influence our decision-making by leading us to rely too heavily on the first piece of information encountered, even if it is not accurate.


A practical scenario might look like this, a business owner who has always priced their products at a certain level may have difficulty adjusting to a new market reality and may continue to price their products too high. In a human resources context, a hiring manager may anchor their decision about a candidate's salary to their previous salary, even if it is not relevant to the current position.


To overcome this bias, we should use a reference point that is not the first piece of information encountered, be aware of the influence of previous experiences or expectations and consider the full range of possible outcomes.




Overconfidence Bias:

Overconfidence bias is a bias that can make us overestimate our abilities or the accuracy of our predictions, leading us to take unnecessary risks.


Imagine, a CEO may overestimate their ability to predict the future of their industry, leading them to make risky investments that ultimately harm the company. In a human resources context, a manager may overestimate their ability to accurately evaluate employee performance, leading them to make decisions that are not in the best interests of the company or the employee.


To overcome this bias, we should seek out feedback from others to gauge our accuracy, consider the limits of our own expertise or knowledge, and use probabilistic thinking to assess the likelihood of different outcomes.



Hindsight Bias:

Finally, hindsight bias can distort our memory of past events and make us believe that we knew all along what would happen.


A manager who hired an employee who turned out to be a poor fit for the company may believe that they knew all along that the employee would not work out. In a human resources context, a manager may believe that they knew all along that a particular employee would be a great fit for a job, even though there may have been other factors that contributed to their success.


To overcome this bias, it is important to consider the information that was available at the time of the event or decision, be aware of how knowledge of the outcome can influence our perception of the decision, and use a "pre-mortem" approach to consider potential reasons for failure before a decision is made.



What's Next?

Cognitive biases are a natural and pervasive part of human thinking and decision-making. While they can be helpful in some situations, they can also lead to errors in judgment and behavior. By being aware of these biases and developing strategies to overcome them, we can improve our decision-making, create more successful organizations, and lead more fulfilling lives.


Don't let cognitive biases negatively impact your organization's success! Choose Straightline Consulting Group, a certified Talent Optimization consultancy with expertise in removing bias from the hiring process. Our experienced consultants can equip your organization with the tools and strategies necessary to make faster, more accurate hires that align with your company culture and goals. Contact us today to learn how we can help your business overcome the hidden influencers of cognitive biases and make better decisions for a more successful future.




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