The study of cognition as a branch of psychology is fairly new as compared to other branches of science.

This mental skill and function is defined as the ways our brain goes about recognizing, recollecting and pondering. It is how the mind does awesome things such as identifying a flying object as a kite, understanding the color of the traffic light, remembering the title of a song, and even playing video games.

It enables the individual to acknowledge and make sense of what he sees, feels, and hears to ensure that he can react appropriately, create plans ahead of time, and learn from his mistakes. For instance, if a person sees the red traffic light, he knows he has to stop – this is exactly his cognitive ability.

Steps in Cognition

First Phase

The first phase in cognition is awareness or consciousness, along with the capacity to focus on the important elements in a scenario. For example, in crossing a hanging bridge, you must determine the elements needed to concentrate properly: taking the correct steps, the ringing of your cellphone, the amazing view of the river, or the pain you feel on your foot. All these things can be important. However, choosing and prioritizing is critical if you want to cross the bridge safely.

Second Phase

After deciding on the elements to focus on, you then use that specific information to create a plan. This may happen fast or take some time depending on the situation.

An example would be when a boxer is cornered during a fight, and he decides he has to make a plan to get out of it. The boxer may choose to take the punch, grab the opponent, or counter-punch. New information can also be included in this plan to solve a problem. If the boxer sees an opening, he may just side step and move away from the corner. No matter what the case is, the formulation of a plan is the ability of a person to select the best option and to combine different plans to get a solution.

Third Phase

The last cognitive step is to carefully examine a plan and come to a decision. This plainly states that cognition has various procedures – to assess, determine, and to make a decision.

It is an extensive mental procedure. We examine circumstances before making a decision, and we assess other people, situations or objects based on our past choices and experiences. It is important to realize that we are one of a handful of animals capable of doing this and, as far as we know, we are the best at doing it. It may be one of the reasons why we dominate as a species.

Cognitive Biases

A cognitive bias is a methodical error in thinking that influences the choices and decisions that individuals make. Occasionally these biases are associated with memory and how you remember things. The way you recall an occasion may be influenced by several factors that, consequently, may result in a biased reasoning and decision-making.

Cognitive biases can be associated with difficulties with attention. Given that attention is a restricted resource, individuals have to be picky about what they focus on in the world surrounding them. For this reason, indirect biases can creep in and affect the way we look at a situation or a person.

When we are making decisions and choices, we want to believe that we are objective, reasonable, and competent at taking in and analyzing every piece of information that is available to us. The truth is, our choices and judgments are usually littered with flaws and affected by numerous biases.

Our brain is both amazing and impressive, but it is also definitely susceptible to restrictions. Cognitive biases are only one form of fundamental restriction on human thinking. It is a form of rational error that happens when people are digesting and translating information, and is often a consequence of our hope to streamline data processing. Though these actually help us make decisions with relative speed, they also occasionally trip us up, resulting in bad decisions and terrible choices.

Types of Cognitive Bias

Behavioral Biases

Behavioral Biases are a type of cognitive bias that affects beliefs and decision-making, especially when constructing business and economic related choices. In general, it affects human behavior and how a person interacts with another.

There are also a few categories under behavioral biases. These includes:

Confirmation Bias

A confirmation bias is a kind of cognitive bias that includes favoring information that validates previous beliefs. For instance, imagine that a person holds a belief that girls with eyeglasses are smart. Whenever this individual encounters an intelligent girl who fits the description, he places bigger significance on this evidence, which backs his existing belief. This person may even look for proof to support this idea, and completely discount instances that never support this theory.

Functional Fixedness

Functional fixedness is a form of behavioral bias that involves the likelihood to look at things as only working in a specific way. As an example, you might view a paperclip as something that can only be used to hold paper together, but what various other uses might it have?

On many occasions, functional fixedness can hinder people from noticing the full range of purposes for an item. It may also harm our capacity to visualize innovative ways to fix problems.

Social Biases

These are more focused on how a person’s decision might be affected by how the society views certain situations or actions. Before making a choice, an individual may be influenced by how he feels others would do in his current predicament. Biases that fall under this category include:

Fundamental Attribution Error

It is the tendency of individuals to emphasize personality-based rationales for behaviors seen in other people. In this case, the role of situational influences is under-emphasized.

Group Attribution Error

On the other hand, this is the biased perception that the traits of a particular group member reflect the group as a whole. It is the tendency to believe that group decisions also reflect the personal preferences of the members, regardless if information is available that obviously implies otherwise.

Memory Errors and Biases

Memory errors and biases are a cognitive bias that either improves or impairs the recollection of a memory. These are often the chances that the memory will be remembered at all, the period of time it requires for it to be remembered, or even both. The content of a revealed memory may also vary.

There are two general classifications for this type of bias, namely:

Fading Effect Bias

A bias wherein the emotion linked to upsetting memories vanishes faster than the emotion linked to positive occasions.

Generation Effect

This implies that self-generated data is recalled better. For example, people are more capable of recalling recollections of statements that they have used than similar statements used by other people.

People do apparently have steady individual differences in their vulnerability to decision biases, such as arrogance, temporal discounting, as well as projection bias and bias blind spot. Having said that, these steady levels of biases within people have the possibility to change through awareness, training and other forms of learning.

Our brains are developed to cater and filter massive amounts of information. However, individual cognitive biases affect the way we receive, interpret and perceive information, which, in the long run, may lead to bad and uninformed decisions.

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