5 Cognitive Biases Favoring People In Positions Of Power

5 cognitive biases that favor people in positions of power

Rational reasoning requires effort, preparation, and reliable sources of information. We tend to be guided by our fears, our preferences and other things. Sometimes we don’t even question our ideas (especially if they have to do with what we already thought). We just approve or disapprove of them depending on how we feel. This is a clear example of how cognitive biases work.

During political elections and other activities where people have power, individuals often take advantage of cognitive biases to manipulate other people’s opinions. People may believe that what is good for the minority is also good for the majority (or vice-versa). Now let’s look at five of these control mechanisms.

5 cognitive biases


This is one of the most devastating cognitive biases. That’s because it leads to injustice. It means that we are using a wrong and simplified interpretation of the principle of action and reaction. It is then assumed that something cannot happen to someone if they have not done anything that can cause it to happen.

The effect of karma

If someone is in a bad situation, we think they deserve it. The poor are responsible for their poverty. The victims are to blame for the aggression. Sick people are responsible for their pain. There is no data to support this reasoning. Yet we often think that there must always be something “behind” every bad situation.

This is one of the common cognitive biases. That’s because it gives us the illusion that we live in a world that we can control. It also makes us believe that we can always do something so that we don’t end up like those people. This bias contains an intrinsic reinforcing factor that keeps it going.


The cognitive biases that work through affirmation are that we only give credibility to the data confirmed by the beliefs we already hold. In this case, people do not evaluate the source of this information. Nor do they compare it to other data. They just have a firm belief in it.

Perhaps these cognitive biases also contain an intrinsic reinforcing factor. Surely it promotes our cognitive saving system at least in the beginning.

We can apply this in particular to the example of political or religious elections. These beliefs are usually inherited and are not questioned. People don’t really know the other side.

They automatically think that their own beliefs are the right ones. This is also the reason why they only consider valid data that supports their way of thinking.

A deceptive effect

This cognitive bias is directly linked to the media. It has to do with the tendency to jump to various conclusions. It depends on how we acquire information or how it is presented to us.

Manipulation of information by the media

This is a classic example : “More than 30% disagree with Paco.” Instead of saying that 70% of the population agree with Paco, the emphasis is on the number of people who do not agree. In this way, the information is given a negative connotation instead of a positive one.

An imaginary connection

This refers to the trend to make connections between two variables, even though the connection does not exist in reality. In this way, the connection of two realities comes from invalid elements. Usually it is used to hide a situation or create an illusion of truth.

This is an example that occurs very often. Structural facts are then associated with specific events that have nothing to do with them. For example, a city is said to have made great progress when Governor “X” was in charge.

However, there is no mention that people discovered an oil field during the same period. The reason for the progress was not with the governor but with the discovery of the oil field. This phenomenon can also be applied in the other direction.

Irreparable loss

This too is one of the most damaging cognitive biases. That’s because it’s at the root of bigotry. It means we cling to our ideas as if they were a real part of ourselves as individuals.

This is also why we find it a difficult task to change our mind. On the one hand, we may think we’re putting an end to something we see as “ours.” We see it as a loss.

On the other hand, this requires a tremendous effort. Detaching ourselves from what we believe and embracing other ways of thinking is not easy. It may be tough, but it can also be fascinating.

The idea of ​​an irreparable loss

It is important that we are aware of cognitive biases. This way you can identify them and control the influence they have on your thinking. It is also essential that you do your research if you want to be well informed.

However, be careful if you rely only on reliable sources. If you want to be free from cognitive distortions, you really have to pay attention to the things that the people with interests express (especially those in positions of power). 

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