Cognitive Bias

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Description & Purpose

Overview of Different Types

The following list of cognitive biases and heuristics is not exhaustive, in reality, there are hundreds of different kinds. The list includes the most commonly encountered instances when dealing with projects as listed by PMI.

  • Optimism Bias - Being overly optimistic, overestimating favorable outcomes and having excessive confidence in the individual's beliefs, knowledge, and capability.
    • Planning Fallacy - Unconsciously underestimating time, cost, and risk.
    • Wishful Thinking - Believing something is true due to a desire or wish.
    • Confirmation Bias - Focussing on information that confirms what you already believe or assume to be true.
    • Overconfidence - Being overly optimistic about an initial assessment and therefore making fast and intuitive decisions rather than deliberate.
  • Loss Aversion - Being more afraid of losses than wanting to acquire gains.
    • Status Quo Bias - Preference for keeping things as they are, change considered as a loss.
    • Anchoring - Sticking with the initial reference point, adjusting it to reach estimate rather than realizing it has become irrelevant.
    • Ostrich Effect - Avoiding risk, failure or difficult situations missing out on important lesson leading to repetition of mistakes.
  • Framing Effect - Using an approach or description that is too narrow.
  • Hindsight Bias - Misremembering predictions, seeing past events as more predictable than they were before they were executed.
  • Confirmation Bias - Tendency to favour information that confirm existing beliefs.
  • Strategic Misrepresentation - Planned, systematic distortion of facts e.g. benefits or costs, to increase chances of project approval.
  • Groupthink - A groups desire to achieve coherence and harmony will cause inadequate decision making, has severe consequences, especially for environments of frequent change.

Optimism Bias

Strategic Misrepresentation




Flyvbjerg, 2013; (Hofstede, 2010; and Lovallo & Kahneman, 2003

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