Imagine doing the best work of your life. Follow the Work Better Project to learn more.

The Cognitive Bias Codex
Rebecca Ryan, APF
Rebecca Ryan, APF

Are cognitive biases bad?

No. We need cognitive biases.

Our brain developed these biases, AKA shortcuts, to prevent us from becoming overwhelmed and paralyzed by life.

Buster Benson has thought deeply about cognitive biases. His insight? There are four primary reasons humans developed cognitive biases. Each reason is correlated to one quadrant of the codex, illustrated above:

1. There's too much information to ingest and make sense of, so we ignore most of it. This includes 42 biases, in the upper-right quadrant (blue-green).

2. We can't make meaning of everything, so we fill in gaps, bolt different ideas together, and voila, we understand the world. This includes a whopping 63 biases in the lower-right (blue) quadrant.

3. We need to act fast, so we make judgment calls. This includes 52 biases, in the lower-left quadrant (green).

4. Our brains aren't big enough to remember everything, and generalizations take up less room. This includes 31 biases in the upper-left (gray) corner.

That's 188 discreet biases that humans' brains have developed to help them navigate the world. (Thank you, brain.)

And yet...futurists must be aware of their biases so they can see the world - and plausible futures - clearly.

Read Buster's excellent blog about how he developed the Codex
Check out Wikipedia's list of Cognitive Biases
Play with this interactive Wikipedia Cognitive Bias Codex

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our newsletter.

Rebecca Ryan, APF
Rebecca Ryan, APF

Rebecca Ryan captains the ship. Trained as a futurist and an economist, Rebecca helps clients see what's coming - as a keynote speaker, a Futures Lab facilitator, an author of books, blogs and articles, a client advisor, and the founder of Futurist Camp. Check out her blog or contact Lisa Loniello for more information.

Photo of a little girl jumping high (because trampoline), trees nearby and a sunny day

Three Keys to Get Unstuck and Ignite Innovation

Is your community or organization in need of a jump start? We have big problems to solve, but uncertainty, complexity, and fatigue can get in the way. Kate shares why and how Strategic Doing is the right tool to get unstuck and rebuild momentum.

Kate Moreland
Kate Moreland
Photo of several local African-American middle school students examining sculptures in a local park

The Creativity of Foresight and the Future of Creativity

A Q&A with Teva Dawson, Group Creative Services

Rebecca Ryan, APF
Rebecca Ryan, APF
Work Better Artwork 1

The History and Future of Work in 3 Acts

“Nothing can happen for decades, and then decades happen in weeks.” - Scottish MP George Galloway Act 1: The Before Times Let’s accept that work has always been and...

Rebecca Ryan, APF Libby Castro
Rebecca Ryan, APF and Libby Castro