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Science & Nature: 10 More Common Faults in Human Thought. Part 2 of 5.
By Admin (from 27/01/2011 @ 12:00:52, in en - Science and Society, read 2838 times)


Illusion of Control


Illusion of Control is the tendency for individuals to believe they can control or at least influence outcomes that they clearly have no influence on. This bias can influence gambling behavior and belief in the paranormal. In studies conducted on psychokinesis, participants are asked to predict the results of a coin flip. With a two-sided fair coin, participants will be correct 50% of the time. However, people fail to realize that probability or pure luck is responsible, and instead see their correct answers as confirmation of their control over external events.

Interesting Fact: when playing craps in a casino, people will throw the dice hard when they need a high number and soft when they need a low number. In reality, the strength of the throw will not guarantee a certain outcome, but the gambler believes they can control the number they roll.


Planning Fallacy

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The Planning fallacy is the tendency to underestimate the time needed to complete tasks. The planning fallacy actually stems from another error, The Optimism Bias, which is the tendency for individuals to be overly positive about the outcome of planned actions. People are more susceptible to the planning fallacy when the task is something they have never done before. The reason for this is because we estimate based on past experiences. For example, if I asked you how long it takes you to grocery shop, you will consider how long it has taken you in the past, and you will have a reasonable answer. If I ask you how long it will take you to do something you have never done before, like completing a thesis or climbing Mount Everest, you have no experience to reference, and because of your inherent optimism, you will guesstimate less time than you really need. To help you with this fallacy, remember Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.

Interesting Fact: “Realistic pessimism” is a phenomenon where depressed or overly pessimistic people more accurately predict task completion estimations.