50 Cognitive Biases in the Modern World
Cognitive biases are widely accepted as something that makes us human.
Every day, systematic errors in our thought process impact the way we live and work. But in a world where everything we do is changing rapidly—from the way we store information to the way we watch TV—what really classifies as rational thinking?
It’s a question with no right or wrong answer, but to help us decide for ourselves, today’s infographic from TitleMax lists 50 cognitive biases that we may want to become privy to.
In the name of self-awareness, here’s a closer look at three recently discovered biases that we are most prone to exhibiting in the modern world.
AI-infused applications are becoming incredibly good at “personalizing” our content, but will there come a time when we let algorithms make all of our decisions?
Automation bias refers to the tendency to favor the suggestions of automated systems.
Take Netflix, for example. Everything we see on the platform is the result of algorithms—even the preview images that are generated. Then, to harness the power of data and machine learning, Netflix categorizes its content into tens of thousands of micro-genres. Pairing these genre tags with a viewer’s history allows them to assign several of over 2,000 “taste profiles” to each user.
And while there’s nothing wrong with allowing Netflix to guide what we watch, there’s an enormous sea of content standing by. Estimates from 2015 claimed it would take nearly four years to watch all of Netflix’s content. Thousands more hours of content have since been added.
If we want to counter this cognitive bias, finding a new favorite series on platforms like Netflix may require some good old-fashioned human curiosity.
The Google Effect
Also known as “digital amnesia”, the aptly named Google Effect describes our tendency to forget information that can be easily accessed online.
First described in 2011 by Betsy Sparrow (Columbia University) and her colleagues, their paper described the results of several memory experiments involving technology.
In one experiment, participants typed trivia statements into a computer and were later asked to recall them. Half believed the statements were saved, and half believed the statements were erased. The results were significant: participants who assumed they could look up their statements did not make much effort to remember them.
Because search engines are continually available to us, we may often be in a state of not feeling we need to encode the information internally. When we need it, we will look it up.
– Sparrow B, et al. Science 333, 777 (2011)
Our modern brains appear to be re-prioritizing the information we hold onto. Notably, the study doesn’t suggest we’re becoming less intelligent—our ability to learn offline remains the same.
The IKEA Effect
Identified in 2011 by Michael Norton (Harvard Business School) and his colleagues, this cognitive bias refers to our tendency to attach a higher value to things we help create.
Combining the Ikea Effect with other related traits, such as our willingness to pay a premium for customization, is a strategy employed by companies seeking to increase the intrinsic value that we attach to their products.
For instance, American retailer Build-A-Bear Workshop is anchored around creating a highly interactive customer experience. With the help of staff, children (or adults) can assemble their stuffed animals from scratch, then add clothing and accessories at extra cost.
Nike also incorporates this bias into its offering. The footwear company offers a Nike By You line of customizable products, where customers pay a premium to design bespoke shoes with an extensive online configurator.
While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with our susceptibility to the Ikea Effect, understanding its significance may help us make more appropriate decisions as consumers.
What Can We Do?
As we navigate an increasingly complex world, it’s natural for us to unconsciously adopt new patterns of behavior.
Becoming aware of our cognitive biases, and their implications, can help us stay on the right course.
Visualized: The Most Googled Countries
This series of visualizations uses Google trends search data to show the most googled countries around the world, from 2004 to 2022.
Visualized: The Most Googled Countries, Worldwide
View a higher resolution version of this network diagram.
Analyzing societal trends can teach us a lot about a population’s cultural fabric.
And since Google makes up more than 90% of internet searches outside of the Great Firewall, studying its usage is one of the best resources for modern social research.
This series of visualizations by Anders Sundell uses Google Trends search data to show the most googled countries around the world, from 2004 to 2022. These graphics provide thought-provoking insight into different cultural similarities and geopolitical dynamics.
A Quick Note on Methodology
The visualization above shows the most googled country in each nation around the world over the last couple of decades.
For example, the arrow pointing from Canada to the United States means that, between 2004 and 2022, people in Canada had more searches about the U.S. than any other country globally.
And since this study only looked at interest in other countries, queries of countries searching for themselves were not included in the data.
Finally, each country’s circle is scaled relative to its search interest, meaning the bigger the circle, the more countries pointing to it (and searching for it).
The Top Googled Countries Overall
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the U.S. is the most googled country on the list, ranking first place in 45 of the 190 countries included in the dataset.
|Country||Top Googled Country|
|🇦🇩 Andorra||🇪🇸 Spain|
|🇦🇪 The United Arab Emirates||🇮🇳 India|
|🇦🇫 Afghanistan||🇮🇷 Iran|
|🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇦🇱 Albania||🇮🇹 Italy|
|🇦🇲 Armenia||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇦🇴 Angola||🇧🇷 Brazil|
|🇦🇷 Argentina||🇪🇸 Spain|
|🇦🇹 Austria||🇩🇪 Germany|
|🇦🇺 Australia||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇦🇿 Azerbaijan||🇹🇷 Turkey|
|🏴 Bosnia and Herzegovina||🇷🇴 Romania|
|🇧🇧 Barbados||🇬🇧 United Kingdom|
|🇧🇩 Bangladesh||🇮🇳 India|
|🇧🇪 Belgium||🇫🇷 France|
|🇧🇫 Burkina Faso||🇫🇷 France|
|🇧🇬 Bulgaria||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇧🇭 Bahrain||🇮🇳 India|
|🇧🇮 Burundi||🇫🇷 France|
|🇧🇯 Benin||🇫🇷 France|
|🇧🇳 Brunei||🇲🇾 Malaysia|
|🇧🇴 Bolivia||🇦🇷 Argentina|
|🇧🇷 Brazil||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇧🇸 The Bahamas||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇧🇹 Bhutan||🇮🇳 India|
|🇧🇼 Botswana||🇿🇦 South Africa|
|🇧🇾 Belarus||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇧🇿 Belize||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇨🇦 Canada||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇨🇩 The Democratic Republic of Congo||🇫🇷 France|
|🇨🇫 The Central African Republic||🇫🇷 France|
|🇨🇬 The Congo||🇨🇩 The Democratic Republic of Congo|
|🇨🇭 Switzerland||🇩🇪 Germany|
|🇨🇮 Côte d'Ivoire||🇫🇷 France|
|🇨🇱 Chile||🇦🇷 Argentina|
|🇨🇲 Cameroon||🇫🇷 France|
|🇨🇳 China||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇨🇴 Colombia||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇨🇷 Costa Rica||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇨🇺 Cuba||🇪🇸 Spain|
|🇨🇻 Cabo Verde||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇨🇾 Cyprus||🇬🇧 United Kingdom|
|🇨🇿 Czechia||🇩🇪 Germany|
|🇩🇪 Germany||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇩🇯 Djibouti||🇫🇷 France|
|🇩🇰 Denmark||🇩🇪 Germany|
|🇩🇲 Dominica||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇩🇴 The Dominican Republic||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇩🇿 Algeria||🇫🇷 France|
|🇪🇨 Ecuador||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇪🇪 Estonia||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇪🇬 Egypt||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia|
|🇪🇷 Eritrea||🇪🇹 Ethiopia|
|🇪🇸 Spain||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇪🇹 Ethiopia||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇫🇮 Finland||🇸🇪 Sweden|
|🇫🇯 Fiji||🇦🇺 Australia|
|🇫🇲 Micronesia||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇫🇷 France||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇬🇦 Gabon||🇫🇷 France|
|🇬🇧 United Kingdom||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇬🇩 Grenada||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇬🇪 Georgia||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇬🇭 Ghana||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇬🇲 Gambia||🇬🇧 United Kingdom|
|🇬🇳 Guinea||🇫🇷 France|
|🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea||🇪🇸 Spain|
|🇬🇷 Greece||🇬🇧 United Kingdom|
|🇬🇹 Guatemala||🇸🇻 El Salvador|
|🇬🇼 Guinea-Bissau||🇵🇹 Portugal|
|🇬🇾 Guyana||🇮🇳 India|
|🇭🇳 Honduras||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇭🇷 Croatia||🇩🇪 Germany|
|🇭🇹 Haiti||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇭🇺 Hungary||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇮🇩 Indonesia||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇮🇪 Ireland||🇬🇧 United Kingdom|
|🇮🇱 Israel||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇮🇳 India||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇮🇶 Iraq||🇹🇷 Turkey|
|🇮🇷 Iran||🇹🇷 Turkey|
|🇮🇸 Iceland||🇬🇧 United Kingdom|
|🇮🇹 Italy||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇯🇲 Jamaica||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇯🇴 Jordan||🇪🇬 Egypt|
|🇯🇵 Japan||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇰🇪 Kenya||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇰🇬 Kyrgyzstan||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇰🇭 Cambodia||🇹🇭 Thailand|
|🇰🇮 Kiribati||🇫🇯 Fiji|
|🇰🇲 Comoros||🇫🇷 France|
|🇰🇳 Saint Kitts and Nevis||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇰🇵 North Korea||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇰🇼 Kuwait||🇮🇳 India|
|🇰🇿 Kazakhstan||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇱🇦 Laos||🇹🇭 Thailand|
|🇱🇧 Lebanon||🇸🇾 Syria|
|🇱🇨 Saint Lucia||🇬🇧 United Kingdom|
|🇱🇮 Liechtenstein||🇨🇭 Switzerland|
|🇱🇰 Sri Lanka||🇮🇳 India|
|🇱🇷 Liberia||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇱🇸 Lesotho||🇿🇦 South Africa|
|🇱🇹 Lithuania||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇱🇺 Luxembourg||🇫🇷 France|
|🇱🇻 Latvia||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇱🇾 Libya||🇪🇬 Egypt|
|🇲🇦 Morocco||🇫🇷 France|
|🇲🇨 Monaco||🇫🇷 France|
|🇲🇩 Moldova||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇲🇪 Montenegro||🇷🇸 Serbia|
|🇲🇬 Madagascar||🇫🇷 France|
|🇲🇰 Republic of North Macedonia||🇷🇸 Serbia|
|🇲🇱 Mali||🇫🇷 France|
|🇲🇲 Myanmar||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇲🇳 Mongolia||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇲🇷 Mauritania||🇫🇷 France|
|🇲🇹 Malta||🇬🇧 United Kingdom|
|🇲🇺 Mauritius||🇮🇳 India|
|🇲🇻 Maldives||🇮🇳 India|
|🇲🇼 Malawi||🇿🇦 South Africa|
|🇲🇽 Mexico||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇲🇾 Malaysia||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇲🇿 Mozambique||🇧🇷 Brazil|
|🇳🇪 The Niger||🇫🇷 France|
|🇳🇬 Nigeria||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇳🇮 Nicaragua||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇳🇱 The Netherlands||🇩🇪 Germany|
|🇳🇴 Norway||🇸🇪 Sweden|
|🇳🇵 Nepal||🇮🇳 India|
|🇳🇿 New Zealand||🇦🇺 Australia|
|🇴🇲 Oman||🇮🇳 India|
|🇵🇦 Panama||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇵🇪 Peru||🇪🇸 Spain|
|🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea||🇦🇺 Australia|
|🇵🇭 The Philippines||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇵🇰 Pakistan||🇮🇳 India|
|🇵🇱 Poland||🇩🇪 Germany|
|🇵🇸 Palestine||🇮🇱 Israel|
|🇵🇹 Portugal||🇧🇷 Brazil|
|🇵🇾 Paraguay||🇦🇷 Argentina|
|🇶🇦 Qatar||🇮🇳 India|
|🇷🇴 Romania||🇮🇹 Italy|
|🇷🇸 Serbia||🇽🇰 Kosovo|
|🇷🇺 Russia||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇷🇼 Rwanda||🇺🇬 Uganda|
|🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||🇪🇬 Egypt|
|🇸🇧 Solomon Islands||🇦🇺 Australia|
|🇸🇨 Seychelles||🇮🇳 India|
|🇸🇩 Sudan||🇪🇬 Egypt|
|🇸🇪 Sweden||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇸🇬 Singapore||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇸🇮 Slovenia||🇭🇷 Croatia|
|🇸🇰 Slovakia||🇨🇿 Czechia|
|🇸🇱 Sierra Leone||🇬🇳 Guinea|
|🇸🇲 San Marino||🇮🇹 Italy|
|🇸🇳 Senegal||🇫🇷 France|
|🇸🇴 Somalia||🇮🇳 India|
|🇸🇷 Suriname||🇳🇱 The Netherlands|
|🇸🇸 South Sudan||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇸🇹 Sao Tome and Principe||🇵🇹 Portugal|
|🇸🇻 El Salvador||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇸🇾 Syria||🇱🇧 Lebanon|
|🇸🇿 Eswatini||🇿🇦 South Africa|
|🇹🇩 Chad||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇹🇬 Togo||🇫🇷 France|
|🇹🇭 Thailand||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇹🇯 Tajikistan||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇹🇱 Timor-Leste||🇸🇬 Singapore|
|🇹🇲 Turkmenistan||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇹🇳 Tunisia||🇫🇷 France|
|🇹🇴 Tonga||🇳🇿 New Zealand|
|🇹🇷 Turkey||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇹🇼 Taiwan||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇹🇿 Tanzania||🇰🇪 Kenya|
|🇺🇦 Ukraine||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇺🇬 Uganda||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇺🇸 The United States||🇲🇽 Mexico|
|🇺🇾 Uruguay||🇦🇷 Argentina|
|🇺🇿 Uzbekistan||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇻🇨 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||🇧🇧 Barbados|
|🇻🇪 Venezuela||🇨🇴 Colombia|
|🇻🇳 Vietnam||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇻🇺 Vanuatu||🇦🇺 Australia|
|🇽🇰 Kosovo||🇦🇱 Albania|
|🇾🇪 Yemen||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia|
|🇿🇦 South Africa||🇬🇧 United Kingdom|
|🇿🇲 Zambia||🇿🇦 South Africa|
|🇿🇼 Zimbabwe||🇿🇦 South Africa|
While it’s the top googled country in neighboring places like Canada and Mexico, it’s also number one in countries much farther away like Nigeria, Sweden, and Australia.
The U.S. is currently the world’s largest economy by nominal GDP, and one of the biggest cultural influences globally. However, it’s worth noting that China, the world’s second-largest economy and the most populated, had very little search interest in comparison, at least based on Google Trends data.
Zooming into Specific Regions
In addition to the network map highlighting the overall top googled countries, Sundell created a series of videos breaking down the data monthly, by regions. Here are the videos for the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
The United States
Since 2004, there have been a high number of searches for Canada, Mexico and India in America.
The searches for Mexico seem to be concentrated in the Western U.S., which is also where a large portion of the country’s Hispanic population lives. In contrast, searches for India seem to come mostly from the eastern side of the country.
The U.S. is by the far the most commonly googled country across Europe, ranking number one consistently over the last two decades.
However, Russia stole the limelight in 2014, the year that they invaded and ultimately annexed Crimea.
In the early 2000s, the U.S. held the top googled spot in Asia, but over time, relative searches for the U.S. go down. India stole the top spot to become the most googled country in Asia for a majority of the 2010s.
One anomaly occurred when Japan briefly took the top spot in March 2011, which is when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit the northern coast of Japan, causing a devastating tsunami.
What will future search results reveal about the global landscape? Were any of the results surprising?
Which Countries Trust Their Government, and Which Ones Don’t?
There is a clear correlation between trust in government and trust in public institutions, but a few countries buck the trend.
Which Countries Trust Their Government, and Which Ones Don’t?
In many countries around the world, vast portions of the population do not trust their own government.
Lack of faith in government and politics is nothing new, but in times of uncertainty, that lack of trust can coalesce into movements that challenge the authority of ruling parties and even threaten the stability of nations.
This visualization uses data from the Ipsos Global Trustworthiness Monitor to look at how much various populations trust their government and public institutions.
Tracking Trust in Government
Since the beginning of the pandemic, global trust in government has improved by eight percentage points, but that is only a small improvement on an otherwise low score.
At the country level, feelings towards government can vary widely. India, Germany, Netherlands, and Malaysia had the highest government trust levels.
Many of the countries with the lowest levels of trust were located in Latin America. This makes sense, as trust in politicians in this region is almost non-existent. For example, in Colombia, only 4% of the population consider politicians trustworthy. In Argentina, that figure falls to just 3%.
Trust in Public Institutions
Broadly speaking, people trust their public services more than the governments in charge of managing and funding them. This makes sense as civil servants fare much better than politicians and government ministers in trustworthiness.
As our main chart demonstrates, there is a correlation between faith in government and trust in public institutions. There are clear “high trust” and “low trust” groupings in the countries included in the polling, but there is also a third group that stands out—the countries that have high trust in public institutions, but not in their government. Leading this group is Japan, which has a stark difference in trust between public services and politicians. There are many factors that explain this difference, such as values, corruption levels, and the reliability of public services in various countries.
While trust scores for government improved slightly during the pandemic, trust in public institutions stayed nearly the same.
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