heuristic hacks

Our brain is a wondrous thing, but it's certainly not perfect. It uses mental shortcuts or heuristics to make 95% of decisions which can sometimes lead you to make erroneous choices. Heuristic hacks will help you avoid these common decision pitfalls, both at home and at work.


Incremental Decision Making
Incremental Decision Making

Do you find it easier to break down decisions into smaller steps as opposed to diving headlong into a larger commitment? If so, you are prone to the effects of incremental decision making. Hack this bias to avoid “firefighting decisions” that often focus on the immediate problem, while ignoring the most optimal solution.

Ambiguity Aversion
Ambiguity Aversion

Do you feel that fear of the unknown is holding you back from achieving your full potential in life? If yes, you might have Ambiguity Aversion and it is preventing you from being the best version of yourself. Hack your Ambiguity Aversion and learn to embrace the unknown.

Happy People, Happy Choices
Happy People, Happy Choices

Did you, as a child, wait for your parents to be in a good mood before broaching the subject of buying a new video game? If yes, then you learned the art of leveraging the "happy people, happy choices" heuristic very early on! Learn how to hack this heuristic in your daily life to minimize conflict.

Empathy Gap

Have you ever judged someone for their belief systems or silently questioned their choices? Most of us fail to put ourselves in other peoples’ shoes and that is a manifestation of our Empathy Gap. Hack this bias to avoid misjudging the emotions and behaviors of others.

Distinction Bias

Have you found yourself agonizing over the 7-grain, 12 grain, organic, low cal, thin sliced choices of bread loaves at the grocery store? This is distinction bias that makes us believe that things are more different (when compared side-by-side) than they actually are. Hack this bias to avoid making wrong choices.

Rosy Retrospection
Rosy Retrospection

“Those were the days” is a phrase most of us have been raised on. We’ve heard this from parents and grandparents as they reminisce the “good old days”. This is Rosy retrospection a cognitive bias that causes people to remember past events as being more positive than they were in reality. Hack this bias to avoid distorting your view of reality.

Pseudocertainty Effect
Pseudocertainty Effect

A lot of people refuse to take the Covid vaccine because they fear adverse side effects even though the chances of a severe reaction are 1 in 100,000. This is the Pseudocertainty Effect at work, and we need to learn how to recognize and hack this bias to avoid making risk averse decisions that may do more harm than good.

Scarcity Heuristic
Scarcity Heuristic

People desire what they can’t have. And the scarcer we perceive something to be, the more we desire it. That's Scarcity Heuristic playing tricks on consumer minds and what led to beanie babies being auctioned for 100X their retail price in the early 2000s. Learn how marketers routinely leverage this heuristic and how to avoid falling prey to it.

of Probablity
Neglect of Probablity

Many of us are likely to feel a pinch when we break that $100 bill for a snack. Compare this to spending a few $! bills for the same snack. Denomination Effect explains why we feel the extra pinch when we use the larger denomination bill.

Status Quo
Status Quo Bias

Do you continue to stick with the same internet and cable service event though it keeps disconnecting with regularity? This is Status Quo Bias or a person’s innate preference for not doing something different from what they’re doing today. Hack this bias to avoid non-rational decisions to stay with a sub-optimal situation.

Spotlight Effect

We’ve all had bad hair days and agonized over our appearance. This is spotlight effect at work that causes people to overestimate the degree to which they are observed and noticed by others. Hack this bias to stop being self-conscious.

of Commitment
Escalation of Commitment

We oftentimes have a tendency to remain committed to our past behaviors even if they continue to have desirable outcomes. This is Escalation of Commitment - a cognitive bias that has led to the downfall of many projects and businesses. It is imperative to recognize this bias to cut losses both in personal and professional life.

Frequency Illusion

Did you ever start a new diet or a fitness regimen and felt everyone you encountered was doing the same? That’s Frequency Illusion or selective attention that is making you notice it everywhere. Learn how to hack this bias to avoid falling into a cognitive trap!

Confirmation Bias

Do you find yourself often saying things like “I agree with that”, “That’s true” or “Yes, you’re spot on”? It is confirmation bias at play that is making you seek evidence to support your pre-existing beliefs. Hack this bias to avoid missing out important information!

Commitment Bias

Do you really hate peas or do you feel an obligation to stick with that declaration you made years ago to your family and friends? This is commitment bias at play with makes you engage in certain behaviors only because you committed to them. See how there's merit to using this bias to your advantage!

Length Effect
List Length Effect

Do you find yourself remembering more items from a longer list when compared to only a handful of items on a shorter list? If so, you are a victim of the list length bias. Learn how you can leverage this predisposition of the human mind to your advantage.

Pygmalion Effect

Do you find yourself putting in more effort and consequently performing better when people expect more of you? This bias, the Pygmalion effect, acts like a self-fulfilling prophecy, which can be leveraged both at home and at work for the best possible outcomes.

Neglect of
Probability Bias
Neglect of Probability Bias

Many of us are likely to feel a pinch when we break that $100 bill for a snack. Compare this to spending a few $! bills for the same snack. Denomination Effect explains why we feel the extra pinch when we use the larger denomination bill.

How to improve messaging with heuristics?

Long Des