18 Cognitive Bias Examples Show Why Mental Mistakes Get Made
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18 Cognitive Bias Examples Show Why Mental Mistakes Get Made

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18 Cognitive Bias Examples Show Why Mental Mistakes Get Made

18 Cognitive Bias Examples

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Out of the 188 cognitive biases that exist, there is a much narrower group of biases that has a disproportionately large effect on the ways we do business.

These are things that affect workplace culture, budget estimates, deal outcomes, and our perceived return on investments within the company.

Mental mistakes such as these can add up quickly, and can hamper any organization in reaching its full bottom line potential.

Cognitive Bias Examples

Today’s infographic from Raconteur aptly highlights 18 different cognitive bias examples that can create particularly difficult challenges for company decision-making.

The list includes biases that fall into categories such as financial, social, short term-ism, and failure to estimate:

Financial biases
These are imprecise mental shortcuts we make with numbers, such as hyperbolic discounting – the mistake of preferring a smaller, sooner payoff instead of a larger, later reward. Another classic financial cognitive bias example is the “Ostrich effect”, which is where one sticks their head in the sand, pretending that negative financial information simply doesn’t exist.

Social biases
Social biases can have a big impact on teams and company culture. For example, teams can bandwagon (when people do something because other people are doing it), and individual team members can engage in blind spot bias (viewing oneself as less biased than others). These both can lead to worse decision-making.

Short Term-isms
One way to ensure a business that doesn’t last? Engage in short term-isms – fallacies that gear your business towards decisions that can be rationalized now, but that don’t add any long-term value. Status quo bias and anchoring are two ways this can happen.

Failure to Estimate
So much about business relies on making projections about the future, and the biases in this category make it difficult to make accurate estimates. Cognitive bias examples here include the availability heuristic (just because information is available, means it must be true), and the gambler’s fallacy (future probabilities are altered by past events).

Want more on cognitive biases? Here are five main biases that impact investors, specifically.

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Misc

Visualizing the Odds of Dying from Various Accidents

This infographic shows you the odds of dying from a variety of accidents, including car crashes, bee stings, and more.

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Infographic: The Odds of Dying from Various Accidents

Fatal accidents account for a significant number of deaths in the U.S. every year. For example, nearly 43,000 Americans died in traffic accidents in 2021.

Without the right context, however, it can be difficult to properly interpret these figures.

To help you understand your chances, we’ve compiled data from the National Safety Council, and visualized the lifetime odds of dying from various accidents.

Data and Methodology

The lifetime odds presented in this graphic were estimated by dividing the one-year odds of dying by the life expectancy of a person born in 2020 (77 years).

Additionally, these numbers are based on data from the U.S., and likely differ in other countries.

Type of AccidentLifetime odds of dying (1 in #)
Motor vehicle accident101
Complications of medical and surgical care798
Alcohol poisoning1,606
Accidental building fire1,825
Choking on food2,745
Drowning in swimming pool5,782
Sunstroke6,368
Accidental firearm discharge7,998
Drowning10,386
Airplane accident11,756
Bee or wasp sting57,825
Dog attack69,016
Lightning strike138,849

For comparison’s sake, the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292,000,000. In other words, you are 4000x more likely to die by a lightning strike over your lifetime than to win the Powerball lottery.

Continue reading below for further context on some of these accidents.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S., with a 1 in 101 chance of dying. This is quite a common way of dying, especially when compared to something like bee stings (1 in 57,825).

Unfortunately, a major cause of vehicle deaths is impaired driving. The CDC reports that 32 Americans are killed every day in crashes involving alcohol, which equates to one death every 45 minutes.

For further context, consider this: 30% of all traffic-related deaths in 2020 involved alcohol-impaired drivers.

Drowning

The odds of drowning in a swimming pool (1 in 5,782) are significantly higher than those of drowning in general (1 in 10,386). According to the CDC, there are 4,000 fatal drownings every year, which works out to 11 deaths per day.

Drowning also happens to be a leading cause of death for children. It is the leading cause for kids aged 1-4, and second highest cause for kids aged 5-14.

A rather surprising fact about drowning is that 80% of fatalities are male. This has been attributed to higher rates of alcohol use and risk-taking behaviors.

Accidental Firearm Discharge

Lastly, let’s look at accidental firearm deaths, which have lifetime odds of 1 in 7,998. That’s higher than the odds of drowning (general), as well as dying in an airplane accident.

This shouldn’t come as a major surprise, since the U.S. has the highest rates of gun ownership in the world. More importantly, these odds highlight the importance of properly securing one’s firearms, as well as learning safe handling practices.

As a percentage of total gun-related deaths (45,222 in 2020), accidental shootings represent a tiny 1%. The two leading causes are suicide (54%) and homicide (43%).

Interested in learning more about death? Revisit one of our most popular posts of all time: Visualizing the History of Pandemics.

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