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I'm a amateur student of cognitive biases and psychological traps and have been reading some of the work of Kahneman, Tversky, Gilovich et al along with more popular books like Cialdini's "Influence." My question as I read through all of this is whether any work has been done on which of the cognitive biases/shortcomings are the most prevalent and widespread?

In layman's terms, I'm trying to answer the question: which behavioral traps are the most common? I'm aware that this is a loaded question in that different socio-cultural influences can have a huge impact on what is "common" but thought it was worth asking.

Any pointers much appreciated! Thanks.

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closed as unclear what you're asking by Artem Kaznatcheev, Christian Hummeluhr, Ben Brocka, Ofri Raviv, Damien Jul 3 '13 at 13:09

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

This question much too broad. When you try to cross the street, you will have a (common for this situation) cognitive bias regarding the time it takes an approaching car to reach you. The same bias would be "uncommon" (in the sense that it does not bear upon) other situations, and the wide variety of everyday situations makes for a huge variety of "common" cognitive biases. I suggest that you edit your question: First, explain what you understand by a "cognitive bias". Use the literature you read to do so. Second, focus your question on one area (minorities, gender, perception, etc. etc.). –  user1196 Mar 11 '13 at 13:38
I think many of our cognitive biases are implicit. There is the book by David Eagleman where he talks about implicit, explicit and innate biases. In general, atleast if I understand the content correctly, explicit biases are easy to access/modify, whereas implicit biases are harder and innate ones are hardest of all. –  user2806 Mar 12 '13 at 1:57
A full reference and a link would be helpful to those looking for the book. I suspect you're talking about amazon.com/Incognito-Secret-Lives-Brain-ebook/dp/B004J4WK9W/… but I don't know. –  Chuck Sherrington Mar 12 '13 at 2:57
Although it doesn't give the most common ones, here is a list of multiple cognitive biases in different areas. –  BenCole May 29 '13 at 15:29

1 Answer 1

This question is not answerable without having a measure of what the most common day-to-day scenarios are. However, I can try a guess: since most people interact in a public, anonymous setting on a daily basis, I would think the fundamental attribution error is most probable. This is especially true while driving -- "did that idiot just cut me off?!"

However, my estimation of fundamental attribution error as the most common cognitive bias may itself be an instance of availability heuristic.

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