Unexpected discoveries

Intriguing and prescient article from January 2002 (nine months before Kahneman's Nobel Prize) describing everybody's favourite cognitive effects - with just a couple of mentions of a then-new buzzword: "behavioural economics". Dan Ariely, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman are quoted as psychologists; Richard Thaler, George Loewenstein and Drazen Prelec all come up, along with pricing consultant Thomas Nagle and a couple of others. It's like the Brat Pack of irrationality.

And in the same Google search I discovered Brain Biases, a site with a handy catalogue of cognitive biases, with a brief description, examples and proposed explanations for each.

Talking of biases, Eric Barker discovers some research suggesting that showing anger makes a complaint more credible. Correct no doubt; but I hope that people don't act too quickly on this advice. If your goal is a successful resolution of your complaint, credibility is not the only factor. You also need to gain cooperation from the people you're complaining to. Anger may not achieve that. Indeed, the research also showed that "affiliative-smiling" demeanour enhanced credibility in more situations - and, I suspect, is more likely to enrol the complainee in helping you.

Update: Tyler Cowen points us to an intriguing blog (which I haven't quite grasped yet) called Farnam Street, whose Mental Model Index also includes a list of cognitive biases.


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