Bias Dilemma: De-Biasing and the Consequent Introduction of New Biases
31 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2013 Last revised: 6 Dec 2013
Date Written: November 15, 2013
Decades of accumulated knowledge empowers our quest to de-bias human cognition. However, I propose that improvement methods aimed at certain biases may introduce new biases due to cognitive and situational limitations: Such limitations give rise to simplifying and protecting processes (SPPs), the unthorough nature of which results in biases. De-biasing may target these processes but ultimately cannot always resolve the underlying cognitive and situational limitations. Consequently, de-biasing runs the risk of forcing either a switch in SPPs or an introduction of new SPPs, thereby exposing us to the threats of new biases. In this paper, I analyse the model of simplifying and protecting processes and discuss promising directions of de-biasing. The model of SPPs stands in line with extant literature on the underlying causes of cognitive bias as well as on the methods of de-biasing, but extends them by synthesizing a coherent theory. It contributes to the judgement and decision making literature that seeks to answer four questions: (a) What mechanism underlies biases? (b) How to de-bias? (c) Why does de-biasing have limitations? (d) Where to channel de-biasing efforts so as to reduce the unbeneficial effects of biases?
Keywords: cognitive bias, de-bias, simplifying and protecting processes
JEL Classification: Z00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation