International - Written by on Saturday, June 6, 2015 3:02 - 1 Comment

How biased are you about bribery (or anything else)? Watch the first video. Then read the post and find out. By Etai Biran

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Being aware of our biased behavior during the information selection stage has significant implications on the rest of the decision making process. Selecting the right information to form a decision will have great impact on the decision’s outcome. Using the wrong information to evaluate a situation will have a “domino effect” on the rest of the decision making process and will eventually lead to bad judgment and bad decisions. If the information selection process is biased it may well be that the final decision turns out to be a bad one because it was based on wrongful information all along. Moreover, biased behavior during this stage is likely to “contaminate” our judgment with biased behavior in the following stages of the decision making process as well. Therefore, high awareness and avoidance of biased behavior should be recognized as a top priority in this stage.

Availability bias:

People assess the frequency, probability or likely cause of an event according to the degree to which examples or occurrences of that event are readily available in their memory. Usually, specific and clear events that can be easily imagined and that evoke emotions will be more available than vague, amorphous, unemotional and difficult to imagine events. For example, a manger considering an investment project will base his assessment regarding the probability of the project’s success on his recollection of the success or failures of a similar project from the recent past. The ease of access to available information may cause managers to rest their judgment on information that is not necessarily relevant or adequate to the decision in hand.

To demonstrate this consider the following experiment: two groups were presented with two pairs of lists containing names: one with the names of 19 famous women and 20 less famous men and the other with 19 famous men and 20 less famous women. The first group of participants was asked to recall as many names as possible from the lists and the second group was asked to judge whether the lists contained more names of men or of women. The results were that the famous names were more easily recalled and the majority of the participants erroneously judged the gender class consisting more famous names to be more frequent. This comes to show that we make judgments with reference to thoughts that are easily drawn from our brain. The first group was able to recall more famous names than less famous ones because the information regarding famous figures was available, making it easy to access and recall that information. The second group’s misconception is a result of their brain realizing and being available to the more famous names on the list rather than to the less famous ones. Accordingly, the second group concluded that the gender class of famous people was more frequent than the class of less famous people although de facto it was not. Nonetheless, the availability heuristic can be very useful sometimes because our minds generally recall events that occur more frequently. This might lead to accurate judgment in some situations.

Selective perception

Selective perception defines a type of behavior humans exhibit while obtaining new information. This bias is described as a situation where the brain is only capable of gathering certain information that is related to a particular frame of reference while ignoring other important information that deviates from this frame. This frame of reference can be our existing values and beliefs, certain anchors (which will be discussed in the following posts) and other factors embedded in our personality.

The failure to spot the gorilla earlier is a result of the inability to attend to it while engaged in the difficult task of counting the number of passes between the white team (the task we were “framed” to be focused on). These results indicate that we sometimes have a tendency not to see what we are not looking for even when we are looking directly at it. This bias has severe implications on the managerial decision making process. Bounded awareness leads most decision makers to overlook important information that is readily available to them in their immediate environment. By doing so they do not obtain all available (and maybe essential) information they need in order to make a completely informed decision. Managers who focus themselves on a certain spectrum of data that is available to them may tend overlook other important information that exists right in front of them as well.

Now that you are a qualified gorilla spotter please refer to the next video:

I guess the main massege I wnat you to tkae away from this post is to pay more attnetion to gorillas from now on (and to chnaging curtains as well for that matter); And now that you are an expret in doing so, did you noitce that some words in this last parargaph are scrambled?

For suggested readings related to this post please contact me at:


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Jun 12, 2015 5:01

[…] How biased are you about bribery (or anything else)? Watch the first video. Then read the post and f… by Etai Biran in […]

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