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What Are Cognitive Errors and How to Avoid Them



There are sometimes “bugs” in human behavior: we do things or make choices based on questionable assumptions. Every time you say to yourself: “why did I do that?”, “I know for myself it was wrong!” – You have a cognitive distortion in front of you. A trap that you have unwittingly fallen into.

Let’s break down the most popular cognitive distortions among professionals that affect decisions and conclusions. It’s important to learn to recognize them, so that you can work efficiently and not live on autopilot.

What These Mistakes Are

Cognitive distortions happen when we make irrational decisions based on instincts, feelings, or past experiences.

In general, there is nothing wrong with irrational decisions; we make hundreds of them every day – as if “on automatic”. But sometimes they get in the way, especially if the mistake is not recognized in time.

A typical example of cognitive distortion is the desire to finish what we started. It works for everything, even for online casino games and cooking. For example, finishing a meal in a restaurant that has already been brought, so it won’t go to waste. Or, for example, someone goes to the movies, even if they are tired and don’t want to because the ticket has already been bought. This is a typical cognitive distortion. If in both cases one sits down and says to oneself, “Why am I doing this?” – The mistake can be avoided. And okay if it’s a movie, but often people spend years studying in the university they dislike or months struggling to write a startup just because they got used to it and want to “see it through.”

Cognitive distortions are dealt with by rational thinking methods. Proponents of such methods try to ask themselves questions as often as possible, “slow down” automatic actions.

Planning Error

This is also a subjective assessment of deadlines. Don’t be tempted to estimate the task step by step and sum up the estimates There is a risk of getting too optimistic a deadline – without taking into account unexpected delays and unforeseen situations. So only the whole estimate, only the hardcore.

Planning error works both ways. If you say you’ll roll out the module in 3-4 weeks, you might get the top estimate wrong – and the task will take 5-6 weeks. And the person you’re talking to will hear you say, “It’ll be ready in three weeks.” This is how the k-combo will happen, which can turn into a fatality: the result will diverge from your expectations by half!

Don’t estimate a deadline right away. Colleagues understand that this is an important matter and you need to weigh everything. You can beat the cognitive error by always answering, “I can’t give a quick answer, I’ll come back with a deadline estimate later.” The key is to remember to come back.

The Self-centeredness Effect

Remember that you are subjectively assessing the level of difficulty of tasks. Don’t hesitate to discuss such issues with your colleagues. Together look for ways to optimize your work.

Learning how to delegate is useful even for a novice developer. June quickly becomes a senior, and the desire to pull everything on yourself can be fatal for your career: burnout has not been canceled.

The Accessibility Heuristic

The availability heuristic is the tendency to estimate the frequency or probability of something by how easily examples of what happened are recalled. The main pitfall here is that the sample is small. And this makes it much easier for the brain to evaluate and decide.

To keep yourself from being fooled, analyze, estimate, and collect statistics.

Rationally selecting tables helps. Make the stage of making tables with decisions and their evaluation – pros, cons, features – a must, in order not to rush with the choice.

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