What Is A Cognitive Bias?

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In this post you’ll learn the answers for the questions: what is a cognitive bias? and why they matter in marketing?

The world of marketing has a set of techniques to bring the attention of prospects to a product. That attention is then led to other set of techniques to embellish the idea of owning the product in the prospect’s mind. When applied correctly marketing has the power to turn millions of not yet convinced prospects into an almost religious fan base of costumers. It’s true that a big part of the conversion of a prospect to a costumer is due to the product itself, but as Jerry Weintraub teaches in When I stop talking you’ll know I’m dead : it is all about packaging.

He brings to mind the idea that it really doesn’t matter if you have the best product ever if you can’t present it to the world. This is where marketing gets in. To present the product in a better light, one of the often used techniques is the persuasion through the use of cognitive biases.


What is a cognitive bias?

A cognitive bias is an outcome of a form of thinking/reasoning, that can result in some form of bad judgment. Our brains are always trying to conserve energy, and whenever it finds a shortcut, it takes advantage of it. Shortcuts not only save the brain’s energy, but also increase its processing speed in the same way a shortcut home get us there earlier. Cognitive biases result from the shortcuts the brain uses to speed up the judgment process. Because those “shortcuts” reduce the need to look and evaluate all the information available, sometimes they cause us to make mistakes, since we only look at a portion of the available data. Those mistakes in judgement/thinking/reasoning are what we call cognitive biases.

We don’t always get the best answer for the problem at hand, what we get is the answer that happens to be the most likely to be the right one at the moment. If for example, we learn that all 35 year olds are psychopaths, whenever we meet a 35-year old, there will be no need for us to try to know what kind of person he/she is. We will just assume that this particular 35-year old is a psychopath. It could be true that this particular 35-year old is a psychopath, meaning that our shortcut to evaluating 35-year olds gave us the right answer/solution, or it could also be true that the opposite is the truth; which could be considered a mistake.


Why do they matter in marketing?

Sometimes, as mentioned above, cognitive biases can lead us to incorrectly misjudging things and this is the reason why. By understanding how people tend to think of things, one can embellish a product in a way that fits such expectations or modes of thinking. One example is the reciprocity bias, which is about the tendency of people to feel obligated to reciprocate any favor no matter how small. A very common application of the reciprocity bias in business is by offering gifts or free items to prospects as a way to increase the odds of a purchase.
The moment the prospect accepts the free offer, it becomes a little harder to completely reject the product without giving it a thought.


To get a list of the cognitive biases click the link below:

Learn more about cognitive biases here



It is all about knowledge and experience;)

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3 thoughts on “What Is A Cognitive Bias?

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