Surprising unconscious biases that limit ‎us


Unconscious bias is when a person makes judgments or makes decisions based on past experience, their own personal deep-rooted thought patterns, assumptions or interpretations, but is not aware that they are doing so. We have already shared some of the most common unconscious biases, but the effect of others is surprising.

IKEA Effect

Many have heard of or even shopped with the Swedish furniture giant. While people are in the store, they see the furniture assembled, but before they head to the checkout, they pick up the cabinet they like in a bulk box. There is an option to pay extra for a specialist to assemble it, but most people prefer to follow the instructions and do the installation themselves. What does this have to do with psychology? There is a prejudice, named specifically after IKEA, that says that when a person has created (or assembled) something himself, he or she gives it more meaning and value. In everyday life, a person falls under the IKEA effect if he thinks that his idea is the best, precisely because it is his. ‎

The IKEA effect is limiting because it prevents the evaluation of how good the work actually is because the time the person has invested in the task makes them very confident in its quality. It happens because people are looking for ways to demonstrate how competent they are , as well as because they want their efforts to be appreciated and to have meaning. ‎

To avoid the IKEA effect, one can do better research before choosing what to buy. Looking at alternatives and seeking advice from someone close also helps. Before making a choice, one should let a person take into account the time he will have to invest until the product gets a finished look.

The Sunk Cost Fallacy

Many people have probably told themselves that once they have started, they will have to continue, even when they see that things are not working out and their gut feeling is that they should stop there. Despite the feeling that this is the right decision, they do not stop because they have invested time, money, and effort in the venture. This is the sunk cost fallacy. ‎

This effect occurs because people do not like to lose. They experience the unpleasant feeling of guilt and frustration when faced with such a dilemma. In the desire to prevent loss, they also lose the opportunity to gain from this decision. While they are focused on what has been done in the past, they do not notice the future benefits. If they get caught in the sunk cost dilemma cycle, they will continue to invest effort, energy, and money, and will also reinforce the feeling that they have already invested too much to give up right now. This vicious circle can be broken by turning the focus to the present, trying to eliminate emotions in making a decision, and not thinking about disappointment and loss, but looking forward to the benefits of that decision.


Sometimes it happens that a person feels that the past is many times better than what is happening in the present. The tendency to view the past in an extremely positive light, while viewing the present as extremely negative, is called declinism. Given the dynamic times we live in, it is difficult not to focus on bad news. It is important that people do not succumb to declinism because it can negatively affect their work and projects.‎

When people only see the world in its bad light, they lose the ability to make rational decisions about their future.

The gray everyday life should not be contrasted against the rosy past. Just recognizing that there is a tendency to get worse is a good place to start taking action against it. As a next step, people should also try to focus on optimistic news and trends – both in their own lives and in society as a whole. ‎

Declinism can prevent people from forming an objective opinion on a given topic. For example, if a person hears the news and reads headlines about how climate change is comparable and even more dangerous than terrorism, he may adopt the attitude that the future is lost and that we should not take any measures to improve the environment, which is wrong and more -dangerous of having a prejudice as a tendency to deteriorate.




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