|Overview: Survivorship Bias|
A rational argument or thought process that only focuses on the survivors or winners of a particular situation.
What is Survivorship Bias?
John Spacey, updated on July 10, 2023
Survivorship bias is a fallacy or cognitive bias that only includes survivors in an analysis or argument. The classic example is to calculate historical stock returns by looking at companies that have survived to the present day and excluding the firms that may have gone bankrupt over the years. It is considered a bit of a tricky bias that can be difficult to detect in data. For example, a 1987 study suggested that cats are more likely to survive falling from the sixth story and higher than lower floors. The study failed to consider that most cats falling from higher floors were not included in veterinary data because they had died and were not brought to the vet.Survivorship bias also arises in everyday thought processes. A young basketball player who aspires to be a professional may read the biography of a star such as Michael Jordan to see what he did to build exceptional skills. Such an analysis excludes the stories of countless athletes who had similar ambitions, exerted great effort but didn't make the NBA.
Cognitive BiasesThis is the complete list of articles we have written about cognitive biases.
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