Measuring cognitive biases

There are nearly 150 recognised cognitive biases. The original approach to measuring them in individuals involved eight weeks’ observation over a prolonged series of simulations. This is impractical, outside of highly specialised areas – such as bomb disposal.

The measurement of cognitive bias – action-orientated biases at work…

Macleod, Matthews and Tata developed a basic measurement of bias toward optimism or pessimism, in 1986. A version of this test, the dot-probe task, can be taken online. This is a useful, simple test, but it does not go into the cognitive bias issue in any depth.

Measurements in the field of risk intelligence – which looks at some wider aspects of the cognitive bias picture – have been developed by Dylan Edwards. These are explained in his excellent book Risk Intelligence – how to live with uncertainty. His risk intelligence test can also be taken online.

The online cognitive bias test is designed to look for all cognitive biases which tend to affect senior leaders. This test makes the measurement of cognitive biases in leaders and their senior teams relatively straightforward, but dealing with them is more challenging. It requires mental effort and a systematic approach, but one piece of good news relates to what happens at the end of the Pathways Model. Behaviours lead to outcomes, and better outcomes are a product of reduced cognitive biases. Better outcomes lead to better experiences which, when coupled with an increased understanding of the workings of the mind, can help to reduce the grip which cognitive biases have over the next decision.

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Mitigating cognitive biases