Biases and Errors in Problem Solving
Decision-making is a difficult and complex task because it involves cognition. The decision-makers rely greatly on their past experiences as guidelines for making choices quickly and cleverly which hamper them to enhance the quality and correctness of the decisions. The shortcuts they use, lead them to different biases and errors in problem-solving. Some of these biases and errors are as follows:
One of the obstacles that lead us to solve the problem is our reluctance to seek information that might disprove our beliefs. It explains that we seek evidence that will verify our ideas more clearly and eagerly than what disproves them.
For example, business managers follow the successful careers of the person they have hired than those they have rejected because they want to confirm their hiring ability. Confirmation bias forces to choose because of belief and values one possesses.
Representation Bias – Judging by Resemblance
If information is not organized properly and effectively it can hinder problem-solving. One of the biases in problem-solving we rely on memory to evaluate whether the current situation is similar, related to one we have encountered and experienced before then act accordingly.
In representation bias, we judge the likelihood of things in terms of how well they represent a particular prototype. That is, the more similar to typical members of a given group, the more likely he/she belongs to that group.
The Availability Bias
Another bias in solving problems operates when events are easily available in our memories. If they come to mind readily, frequently, faster they are likely to be remembered than others. In general, these available events assist us to solve our problems but they do not always facilitate in a positive direction.
For example, some people fear to travel in planes hence they travel in automobiles. However, the chance of dying in automobiles is hundreds of times higher than in planes because air crashes are given extensive coverage in mass media. People bring a vague example of mind, relating to them. As a result, people make errors while making judgments because they rely on how easily these information flow in their mind.
The Hindsight Bias
Hindsight is the tendency to think that we knew some event was likely to occur even before we learned that it had in fact taken place. The hindsight bias is also known as “I knew it all along”, or “I knew it was going to happen”, a phenomenon. It means when an event occurs, we often have the impression that it was going to happen or we seem to be predicting them.
It is a false belief in which we believe that we accurately predicted the outcome long before the incident had occurred. We see the events not as surprising. We seem to be expecting after they had occurred, even when they seemed as unlikely before their taking place.
One of the biases in problem-solving is overconfidence. Overconfidence is the tendency to overestimate the accuracy of our knowledge and judgments. We tend to think we know more than we do and accomplish in less time than it actually takes. For example, students typically expect to finish projects ahead of schedule. But they get finished after about twice as many days as predicted.
Overconfidence is a general bias. It applies to both lay people and experts. For example, doctors’ confidence increases during the diagnosis of the disease as they receive more information, even if this information is irrelevant and non-diagnostic. Later on, go fatal.
In anchoring bias, we make modifications in making decisions based on the pre-information we have. It is a mental rule of thumb. Usually, we fixate on initial information and fail to adjust the other incoming information. Hammond and his colleagues suggested that anchoring bias occurs because our mind appears to give an inappropriate amount of emphasis to the first information it receives.
Anchoring is much seen in negotiations. When a prospective employer asks a person how much alary he/she expects on that job. The person usually takes the help of his previous job salary.
Escalation of Commitment
Another error that we make while we make decisions is an escalation of commitment which refers that people stick with a decision even when they know that it is wrong and bad. Studies have proved that they strongly stick to their decision. These people try to demonstrate their decision was not wrong and they do not admit their mistake. They may even spend extra time, money, effort, resources in self-justification to that decision.
In a way, they are trapped in bad decisions with no means to get out of it which is known as escalation of commitment. For example, people remained in troubled marriages, managers do not decide for liquidation of the company even if it is in bad shape.