In order to deal with a life-and-death survival situation, or any important decision, it's essential to stay calm, collected, and logical. If you panic, act impulsively, or allow your subconscious to control your decision-making abilities, you could make the wrong choice when it matters most. This is why understanding the psychology of survival is crucial—in many cases, your mindset is just as important as your physical condition, if not more so.

One of the biggest barriers to making rational decisions is cognitive bias. Cognitive bias is a systematic tendency to make undesirable choices or errors in logical thought. In simpler terms, it's when our brain distorts incoming information to make us believe something that's untrue or irrational. Many of the various types of cognitive biases arise from mental shortcuts (also known as heuristics). The brain tries to “connect the dots” to improve efficiency, but ends up leading us astray.

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Fortunately, all is not lost—we can fight back against our cognitive biases by understanding them. The following infographic from Business Insider shows 20 of the most common cognitive biases, and explains how they negatively impact our decision-making skills. For a larger and easier-to-read version, click on the image, then select the “Download” button in the top right corner. Alternatively, you can click here for a direct link.

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Next time you're faced with a difficult choice, consider these biases, and ask yourself: Am I making a decision based on the facts, or am I allowing bias to skew my perception? For more information on real-life instances of cognitive bias having catastrophic effects, check out this list of “Real-World Effects of Cognitive Bias”.


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