20 May 2022


Cognitive Biases in the Workplace

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Essay (Any Type)

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Cognitive biases are forms of behaviors characterized by deviation from rational judgment or an error in the thought process which results in skewed decision making. Human beings are constantly under the influence of cognitive biases whose outcome include swayed decisions, distorted conclusions and negatively arrived at beliefs. Cognitive biases may result from mental shortcuts where a person’s brain processes information wrongly eventually producing illogical judgments ( Haselton, Nettle & Murray, 2015) . Irrational decision making or skewed thinking is attributed to problems with attention or biased beliefs which influences a person’s though process. Cognitive bias is usually rife in the workplace as evidenced by increased incidences of incorrectly attaching meaning to an employee’s behavior. The social perception is a fundamental attribution error that may influence assessment for hiring, employee perfomance evaluation and promotion.

Cognitive biases to address and why

Confirmation bias is the persuasion to partially examine a situation without interrogating the whole picture. The bias is characterized by filtering out of information and paying attention to personal perception towards an event or person. As Caputo (2013) explains, confirmation bias in the workplace arises in instances where an employee develops tendency to like only those who agree or think in the same way like him or her. If anyone in the workplace agrees with an employee’s beliefs, such a worker befriends and surrounds himself with the people who confirm what the employee thinks or believes. I would also address negativity bias which clouds worker’s judgement. Individuals tend to form judgment on a person based on more recent events rather than past occurrences. For example, an employee may receive an unfair feedback after making a recent mistake despite exceling in that area before. People who perpetuate recency bias fail to acknowledge previous and past performance despite it being outstanding ( Haselton et al., 2015)

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Authority bias is also prevalent in modern organizations. The bias entails considering only the ideas and opinions coming from senior teams or groups with authority and overlooking concepts forwarded by junior teams. Innovative ideas from senior team members are adopted while the inputs from subordinate groups are ignored whether or not they are creative or relevant. Ambiguity bias is characterized by favoring options whose outcome can be correctly be predetermined and ignoring those whose end result is unclear. The bias adversely affects innovation outcomes since the process has an unknown outcome and is risky. The bias affects decision making in workplaces when people tend to select options which have high probability of a favourable end result. The cognitive biases should be addressed and solutions formulated since most of them lead to uninformed decision making in the workplace. Irrational decision making would probably affect an employee’s perfomance and overall organization productivity. 

Exercises to identify cognitive biases

I would hold exercises such as carrying selective research on existing innovations and observing likelihood of innovation and ambiguity bias. Additionally, holding ideation rounds among teams in the work place would expose authority and negativity bias. The ideation round exercise is usually meant to generate, develop and communicate new ideas. During the event, I would observe employee behavior towards each other when supporting or objecting ideas. Through a mere observation, one would be able to alienate instances of cognitive bias. Storyboarding prototypes exercise would also reveal types of cognitive bias ( Caputo, 2013) . This would identify framing bias and strategic misrepresentation. Building model canvas sessions would also lead to identification of types of cognitive bias in the workplace. It is a management tool that that purposes to pass an idea or concept in a coherent way. Ways which employees receive the communicated idea would reveal the instances of cognitive bias. 

"Push-back” might you expect from your co-workers? Why?

I would anticipate pushbacks such as negative sentiments from co-workers or outright dismissal of the claim that some employees are perpetuating cognitive bias. The employees would also showcase backlash towards my findings. Other employees may pressure or blackmail me to drop the findings or hide the report from the top management. The co-workers are likely to accuse me of a wrong doing inappropriately in an attempt to have me dismissed from the organization as a form of protection from being exposed as cognitively biased. 

Different biases in another industry and ways to address them

Self-serving bias is likely to arise which is characterized by some employees favoring decisions that enhance their self-esteem. The cognitive bias makes one to tend to only own and relate to positive events. The bias may affect innovation workshops when employees prioritize personal agendas rather being customer centric. Feature positive effect bias is also likely to occur where people tend to ignore negative effects and only focus on good benefits even when the negative side is significant ( Blumenthal-Barby & Krieger, 2015) . The cognitive bias makes employees or teams to dismiss missing information leading to formulation of concepts with critical flaws. The bandwagon bias is likely to arise where some workers directly adopt favoring ideas fronted by others. According to Blumenthal-Barby and Krieger (2015), the cognitive bias is usually influenced by authority bias and is common in workshops. The bias influences the likelihood of adoption of concepts selected by another group in the workplace. 

I would adopt several strategies to overcome the cognitive biases. First, I would undertake relational impact by considering and assessing individuals who will be affected by the decision. Looking at how others will be impacted will be crucial in clarifying decisions taken. Rational analysis will also be critical in addressing the bias by collecting more data on the decisions taken in an attempt to make rational judgement. I would also seek outside perspective to asses any conflicting values and incorporate relevant ideas from those with different opinions. 


Blumenthal-Barby, J. S., & Krieger, H. (2015). Cognitive biases and heuristics in medical decision making: a critical review using a systematic search strategy.  Medical Decision Making 35 (4), 539-557.

Caputo, A. (2013). A literature review of cognitive biases in negotiation processes.  International Journal of Conflict Management .

Haselton, M. G., Nettle, D., & Murray, D. R. (2015). The evolution of cognitive bias.  The handbook of evolutionary psychology , 1-20.

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 17). Cognitive Biases in the Workplace.


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