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Cognitive Biases

What is Survivorship Bias?

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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.
Overview: Survivorship Bias
A rational argument or thought process that only focuses on the survivors or winners of a particular situation.
Related Concepts
Next: Base Rate Fallacy

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.

Curse Of Knowledge

Why experts have trouble communicating.

Optimism Bias

An overview of optimism bias, including its surprising benefits.

Decoy Effect

A cognitive bias that is well known in marketing circles.

Biases vs Heuristics

The difference between biases and heuristics.

Information Cascade

A definition of information cascade with examples.

Functional Fixedness

A definition of functional fixedness with examples.

Boil The Frog

A definition of boil the frog, with examples.

Anecdotal Evidence

The definition of anecdotal evidence with examples.


The definition of scientism with examples.

Thought Processes

A list of thinking approaches and types.


A few logic terms explained.

Abstract Ideas

A few dangers of being too abstract.

Objective vs Subjective

The difference between objective and subjective.

Intellectual Diversity

A definition of intellectual diversity with examples.

Creative Value

The definition of creative value with examples.

Benefit Of Doubt

The definition of benefit of doubt with examples.


The definition of pessimism with examples.
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