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Cognitive Biases: Three Common Types Illustrated

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In a world of information overload, we can fall victim to all sorts of cognitive biases. Since they can lead us to generate false conclusions, it’s particularly important to understand what these biases are and how they work, as the consequences can become quite drastic.

Confirmation bias, sampling bias, and brilliance bias are three examples that can affect our ability to critically engage with information. Jono Hey of Sketchplanations walks us through these cognitive bias examples, to help us better understand how they influence our day-to-day lives.

Confirmation Bias

Cognitive Bias Examples - Confirmation

One of the most-commonly encountered and understood, you’re likely to have already heard about confirmation bias. This cognitive bias affects the way we test and evaluate hypotheses every day.

In simple terms, confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out or interpret evidence in such a way that supports our own strongly-held beliefs or expectations. This means that, given access to the same set of data and information, different people can come to wildly differing conclusions.

Feeding into confirmation bias can lead us to make ill-informed choices or even reinforce negative stereotypes. For this reason, it is important to remember to seek out information that both confirms and contradicts your presumptions about a certain topic.

Sampling Bias

Cognitive Bias Examples - Sampling

Sampling bias is a kind of bias that allows us to come to faulty conclusions based on inaccurate sample groups or data. Generally, the cause of sample bias is in poor study design and data collection.

When polling individuals for survey questions, it is important to get a representative picture of an entire population. But this can prove surprisingly difficult when the people generating the study are also prone to human flaws, including cognitive biases.

A common example involves conducting a survey on which political party is likely to win an election. If the study is run by a professor who only polls college students, since they are around and therefore easier to collect information from, the poll will not accurately reflect the opinions of the general population.

To avoid sampling bias, it is important to randomize data collection to ensure responses are not skewed towards individuals with similar characteristics.

Brilliance Bias

Cognitive Bias Examples - Brilliance

Brilliance bias is another common cognitive bias that makes us more likely to think of genius as a masculine trait. This is in part due to the lack of female representation in both traditional academic and executive positions.

In fact, The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology published an in-depth study on brilliance bias in 2020. It suggests that a likely source of this bias is in the uneven distribution of men and women across careers typically associated with higher level intelligence.

While this distribution is a remnant of historical factors that limited access to education and career choices for women in the past, its presence has made us (wrongly) conclude that women are less brilliant instead. Naturally, as the cycle perpetuates the uneven distribution of women in these careers, it only reinforces this bias.

Other Cognitive Bias Examples

These few examples from Jono Hey give a good overview of some of the biases we face when trying to understand the data given to us, but they are just the tip of the iceberg.

It is important to be cognizant of these biases in an era where we are constantly engaging with information, especially if we want to combat some of the harmful consequences they entail.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Misc

The Top 25 Nationalities of U.S. Immigrants

Mexico is the largest source of immigrants to the U.S., with almost 11 million immigrants.

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Bar chart showing the top 25 nationalities of US Immigrants.

The Top 25 Nationalities of U.S. Immigrants

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

The United States is home to more than 46 million immigrants, constituting approximately 14% of its total population.

This graphic displays the top 25 countries of origin for U.S. immigrants, based on 2022 estimates. The data is sourced from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), which analyzed information from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 American Community Survey.

In this context, “immigrants” refer to individuals residing in the United States who were not U.S. citizens at birth.

Mexico Emerges as a Leading Source of Immigration

Mexico stands out as the largest contributor to U.S. immigration due to its geographical proximity and historical ties.

Various economic factors, including wage disparities and employment opportunities, motivate many Mexicans to seek better prospects north of the border.

CountryRegion# of Immigrants
🇲🇽 MexicoLatin America
& Caribbean
10,678,502
🇮🇳 IndiaAsia2,839,618
🇨🇳 ChinaAsia2,217,894
🇵🇭 PhilippinesAsia1,982,333
🇸🇻 El SalvadorLatin America
& Caribbean
1,407,622
🇻🇳 VietnamAsia1,331,192
🇨🇺 CubaLatin America
& Caribbean
1,312,510
🇩🇴 Dominican RepublicLatin America
& Caribbean
1,279,900
🇬🇹 GuatemalaLatin America
& Caribbean
1,148,543
🇰🇷 KoreaAsia1,045,100
🇨🇴 ColombiaLatin America
& Caribbean
928,053
🇭🇳 HondurasLatin America
& Caribbean
843,774
🇨🇦 CanadaNorthern America821,322
🇯🇲 JamaicaLatin America
& Caribbean
804,775
🇭🇹 HaitiLatin America
& Caribbean
730,780
🇬🇧 United KingdomEurope676,652
🇻🇪 VenezuelaLatin America
& Caribbean
667,664
🇧🇷 BrazilLatin America
& Caribbean
618,525
🇩🇪 GermanyEurope537,484
🇪🇨 EcuadorLatin America
& Caribbean
518,287
🇵🇪 PeruLatin America
& Caribbean
471,988
🇳🇬 NigeriaAfrica448,405
🇺🇦 UkraineEurope427,163
🇮🇷 IranMiddle East407,283
🇵🇰 PakistanAsia399,086
Rest of World11,637,634
Total46,182,089

Mexicans are followed in this ranking by Indians, Chinese, and Filipinos, though most immigrants on this list come from countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

On the other hand, only three European countries are among the top sources of U.S. immigrants: the UK, Germany, and Ukraine.

Immigration continues to be a significant factor contributing to the overall growth of the U.S. population. Overall population growth has decelerated over the past decade primarily due to declining birth rates.

Between 2021 and 2022, the increase in the immigrant population accounted for 65% of the total population growth in the U.S., representing 912,000 individuals out of nearly 1.4 million.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out Visualized: Why Do People Immigrate to the U.S.? This visualization shows the different reasons cited by new arrivals to America in 2021.

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