The impact of the ambiguity effect on decision-making

When something is described as ambiguous, it means that it is confusing, unclear, or open to different interpretations. Entrepreneurs face ambiguous situations all the time; it’s the nature of the business. For example, entrepreneurs make decisions about pricing, marketing, vendors, and finances that don’t have certain outcomes. In addition, entrepreneurs often have to make choices …

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How the end-of-history illusion prevents you from shaping your future self

“Where do you see yourselves in five years?” Tough question, isn’t it? It’s hard to imagine where we will be in five days, let alone five years. And yet, most people believe that their personalities, work situations, and values won’t change much in the future, even though they have changed tremendously in the past. This …

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Functional fixedness: when we stick to what we know

Surely, a knife is made for cutting things. And you can only use a cotton swab to clean your ears — right? Functional fixedness is a form of cognitive bias which makes us automatically narrow down the function of each tool. Although functional fixedness offers great mental shortcuts, it can present barriers to working to …

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The willpower paradox: when confident self-talk becomes counterproductive

We all have used self-talk to motivate ourselves. “I will meditate everyday”, “I will start going to the gym”, “I will complete this coding course”… It gives us a boost in confidence and the conviction that we will achieve our goals. Such self-talk sounds harmless, but research suggests we may benefit from being a little …

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The Seven Sins of Memory

“Our memory is a more perfect world than the universe: it gives back life to those who no longer exist,” once said French author Guy de Maupassant. Whether it’s short-term memory allowing us to perform simple calculations on the fly, long-term memory which can store larger quantities of information, sometimes for a whole life span, …

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Egocentric bias: why we feel like the main character in our own movie

Do you have a burning memory of an embarrassing experience that happened to you, and can’t help but think that everyone who was present must still laugh about it to this day? Chances are, most of them don’t even remember any of it. Similarly, have you noticed how we tend to overestimate the amount of …

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Declinism: how rosy retrospection impacts decision-making

“It was better before,” says your friend. “Ha, those were the days,” your reply with a sigh. Declinism is the belief that societies tend towards decline, often linked with rosy retrospection—our tendency to view the past more favourably and the future more negatively. It may seem harmless, but declinism can cloud your judgement and lead …

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The Barnum Effect: why we love astrology and personality tests

What do astrology, aura reading, fortune telling, cold reading, and some personality tests such as the MBTI have in common? They all exploit the Barnum Effect to convince people that the generated statements are personal to them. The statements are so vague, we interpret our own meaning, sometimes feeling in awe of their accuracy. “That’s …

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