What is NLP | More Heuristics, Effects and Biases

What is NLP | More Heuristics, Effects and Biases

In previous posts we’ve considered cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias, in this post we’re going to consider more natural processes that enable us to process information much faster, but at the cost of sometimes jumping to the wrong conclusion (s).

These are not bad in themselves as they save us a significant amount of time and mental energy in our thinking, however if we have important decisions to make they may encourage us to make critically wrong decisions.

Representative Heuristic

This is where an event occurs once or twice and we generalise that the same result will occur across  similar (or classes of) events.

Recency Effect

This is where we put more emphasis on recent events, which may mean we give them more importance than previous events (which may in fact be more important).

(This relates to impression bias, where we tend to hold on to our first impression, and ignore information that comes later).

Affect Heuristic

This is where positive feelings may make us careless, so we aren’t as diligent as we would be otherwise.

Optimism Bias

When we’re optimistic we may ignore real dangers, and end up losing a lot more than expected.

Pessimism Bias

When we’re pessimistic may significantly exaggerate risks, and therefore not make decisions, which in practice have high upsides have very little downside.

Hindsight Bias

When we know what has happened, when we look back we only tend to notice information that leads to what actually happened. In hindsight we believe the result was predictable, but we may have missed other critical information.

Endowment Bias

We tend to overvalue what we already have. This means its harder to let go of things than we realise, this may result in a financial loss, for example if we hold on shares, expecting the market to rise. Or it may mean we end up with too many open tasks, so we don’t finish any of them effectively.


What can we do to make significantly better decisions, now we’re aware of heuristics, effects and biases?

  • Get cleaner and more information before we decide (more feedback and feed-forward, reality check against KPI’s)
  • Use meta-model or ‘clean’ question techniques to clarify our thinking
  • Use a decision making process that includes 1) logical (deliberate thinking), intuitive (fast thinking) and emotional thinking (we’re our thinking is hijacked by our emotions, particularly hope, fear and anxiety), 2) risk reduction (without reducing the upside) 3) future pacing the result over time
  • Use the services or a coach or facilitator to help us check our information gathering and decision making
  • Practice mindfulness and related disciplines
  • Look after our overall health (food, water, exercise, stretching, sleep, relationships, purpose)

What’s next? What does NLP offer?

Related Links

1: What is NLP | What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming
2: The NLP Adventure Starts
3: Mental maps and world view
4: Cognitive Dissonance
5: Confirmation Bias
6: More Heuristics, Effects and Biases (This Page)
7: What does NLP offer?
8: Do I need a coach?
9: Get the most of this guide?
10: Exercise
11: Summary