Behavioural Science


#16: The Frequency Illusion

25

Apr 2017

#16: The Frequency Illusion

The Frequency Illusion, also known as the Baader-Meinhoff phenomenon, is a cognitive bias which describes our tendency to see new information, names, ideas or patterns ‘everywhere’ soon after they’re first brought to our attention. It took the Baader-Meinhoff name after this curious psychological fact was first described by a reader of the St Paul Pioneer Press. Having just heard about the ultra-leftwing Baader-Meinhoff terrorist group in Western Germany, he saw Baader-Meinhoff everywhere. The Frequency Illusion is caused by two cognitive processes: selective attention and confirmation bias. Our brain has an incredible talent for pattern recognition. It’s one of the features...

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You are Biased

01

Feb 2017

You are Biased

A living library of the cognitive biases and heuristics that structure our thinking and decision making. Most of us (like to) think of ourselves as being pretty reasonable, rational, in control and objective – able to understand and evaluate complex ideas and situations, and thereby act in the best way possible for ourselves and others. And we are, occasionally. A lot of the time, though, the way that we think, the things we perceive and the decisions we make are riddled with irrationality, errors and – you guessed it – bias. Our brains are incredible, incredibly powerful and complex organs that we’re...

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Nudge & Sludge (Guest Post by Gino Engle)

15

Dec 2016

Nudge & Sludge (Guest Post by Gino Engle)

By now we are all well-accustomed with the notion of ‘nudge’, as popularised by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. Nudges alter the choice architecture around decision-making to enable more helpful decisions to be made, more often. Simply put, nudges change behaviour by helping individuals make better decisions: from encouraging healthier eating by placing fruit at eye-level, to boosting retirement savings by making pensions schemes the default option. Almost a decade since the release of Nudge – and with government-led ‘nudge units’ springing up across the world – this notion has become somewhat of a new orthodoxy. As Cait Lamberton puts it,...

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Big Data’s Growing Pains

15

Dec 2016

Big Data’s Growing Pains

What is ‘Big Data’? The words ‘big data’ seem to be everywhere these days. Detailed, and valuable, personal information is generated from just about everything in our daily lives, and is utilized by our social media sites and marketers to target products, information and services that our behaviour suggests that we’ll ‘like’.[1] While many people refer to big data as purely digital inputs, like online and social network behaviour, in actual fact most companies include traditional data transactions and records, such as point-of-sale interactions, in their analytics and persona development too. The use of Big Data is credited as one...

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