Cognitive Bias Codex

An image that beautifully captures our tendency to deviate from the rational.

There is no shortage of infographics in the world today. But I keep returning to this one. I find myself referencing it one conversation after another. Regardless of the topic or the argument, it is perennially relevant.

The graphic is quite simple, based on Wikipedia’s list of cognitive biases. The image groups the known cognitive biases in to four categories: too much information, not enough meaning, the need to act quickly, and the limits of memory. The stroke of genius are 20 subsection descriptors, such as “To avoid mistakes we aim to preserve autonomy and group status”, “We fill in characteristics from stereotypes, generalities, and prior histories”, and “We are drawn to details that confirm our existing beliefs”. The cognitive biases themselves then form the data core of the illustration. Scientifically speaking, these categories and subsections are arbitrary, but artistically and aesthetically they are quite interesting.

If you are thinking that this image would be a great reminder to adorn the walls of your office or classroom, that’s an option: 188 different cognitive biases, unified into one conceptual model and condensed into a single piece of educational art.