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Cognitive Biases

5 Examples of a Positive Bias

A positive bias is a pattern of applying too much attention or weight to positive information. The following are illustrative examples.

Excessive Optimism

Optimism is the practice of purposely focusing on the good and potential in situations. This isn't necessarily a bias as you may realize negative information exists but choose to sideline it in some strategic way. However, denying that negative information exists or is relevant can easily become a bias. For example, an investor who cherry picks positive information about a company due to their optimistic view of the firm. This may neglect risk and negative aspects of the firm's performance.

Information Processing

A tendency to ignore negative things in a flow of information. As with optimism, this isn't always a bias as people may simply prefer to dwell in the positive. However, if this regularly produces irrational opinions, actions or decisions this scanning-for-the-positive can be viewed as a bias.

Publication Bias

A tendency to publish research that produces positive results over those with negative or null results. A great deal of research goes unpublished such that the selection of positive results over negative can throw off meta-research that seeks to summarize the current findings in a research area. For example, suppose 8 studies find that a diet fad produces a health benefit but 80 studies find that the diet produces no benefit. If all 8 studies that find a benefit are published and only 10% of studies that find no benefit are published this would be likely to invalidate a meta-analysis that supposes there are only 16 studies on the topic.

Media Bias

A publication bias can be amplified by the media who may be likely to report on positive results from scientific research but ignore negative results. For example, a research paper that reports a health benefit of a popular food that is disseminated to an audience of 1 billion people by various media outlets while subsequent published research that fails to reproduce the results of this study is disseminated to an audience of 31 people due to mass media and social media disinterest.

Negativity Bias

Negativity bias is a pattern of applying too much attention or weight to negative information. For example, an academic culture where cynical criticism of dominant societies, cultures and systems is the norm whereby a less cynical viewpoint is assumed to be naive, unintelligent or simply incorrect.
Overview: Positive Bias
A pattern of applying too much attention or weight to positive information.
Related Concepts

Cognitive Biases

This is the complete list of articles we have written about cognitive biases.
Ambiguity Effect
Backfire Effect
Base Rate
Circular Reasoning
Cognitive Bias
Cognitive Dissonance
Complexity Bias
Crab Mentality
Creeping Normality
Curse Of Knowledge
Decoy Effect
Exposure Effect
False Analogy
False Hope
Fear Of Youth
Gambler's Fallacy
Golden Hammer
Halo Effect
Hindsight Bias
Negativity Bias
Optimism Bias
Peak-End Rule
Positive Bias
Sour Grapes
Survivorship Bias
Us vs Them
Victim Mentality
Wishful Thinking
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Cognitive Biases

A list of common cognitive biases explained.

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An a-z list of social attitudes.

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A list of interesting research topics.

Words To Describe Research

A vocabulary for describing research.

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The definition of secondary research with examples.

Qualitative Information

An overview of qualitative information with examples.

Information Literacy

The definition of information literacy with examples.

Things To Learn

A list of things to learn.


An overview of the characteristics of a good theory.

Regression Analysis

An overview of regression analysis with examples.

Information Sources

An overview of information sources with examples.

Applied Sciences

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