Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

pp 1-7

Date: Latest Version

Cognitive Bias

Definition

Cognitive bias refers to a systematic (that is, nonrandom and, thus, predictable) deviation from rationality in judgment or decision-making.

Introduction

Most traditional views on human cognition propose that people tend to optimality when making choices and judgments. According to this view, which has been pervasive in many cognitive sciences (particularly Psychology and Economics), people behave like rational, close-to-optimal agents, capable of solving simple as well as complex cognitive problems, and to maximize the rewards they can obtain from their interactions with the environment. Generally, a rational agent would weight potential costs and benefits of their actions, eventually choosing the option that is overall more favorable. This involves taking into consideration all the information that is relevant for solving the problem, while leaving out any irrelevant information that could contaminate the decision (Stanovich 1999). Whole research areas in social sciences have ...

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