Editable list of cognitive biases involved in smartphones and social media



(Note: This is a wiki post. You can edit and extend by clicking the small orange icon in top-right corner)

Hello guys, Greetings from Germany.

I have found a nice List of cognitive biases on wikipedia. I would like to ask for your help to find all cognitive biases which are being used on smartphones or social media to get us hooked.

Below are the biases that are applicable. Please add your additions to this list!

Cognitive Biases in Social Media

Name Description Relation to social media
Anchoring Tendency to rely too heavily, or “anchor”, on one trait or piece of information when making decisions News on feeds are more and more small and strong as message, to capture the attention of the viewer, who relies on a partial and biased information to make their political/social/ethic choices.
Confirmation bias Tendency to search for, interpret, focus on and remember information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions Recommended contents on social media feeds tend to confirm user’s beliefs, typically pictures, videos, etc. that push the user belief to some extreme to maximize the chance of being consumed.
Information bias The tendency to seek information even when it cannot affect action People use to look for an issue on the web and in social media and are not able to interpret and give meaning to the huge mass of information that they can get.
Actor-observer bias The actor of an event tends to give more importance to the social situational elements, whereas the observer gives more importance to the actor personality People use to comment on social media post only on the basis of the few information contained in the post, many times judging the person who posted and making strong claims about his/her personality.
Social desirability bias The tendency to over-report socially desirable characteristics or behaviours in oneself and under-report socially undesirable ones Social profiles are usually made collecting all positive pieces of user’s own personality, life, exterior aspect, etc., according to his/her own idea of sharable identity. LinkedIn is the perfect example of where this bias plays out.

An idea for gamifying lessons on cognitive biases in Digital Citizenship classes

This is the link to the picture from wikipedia:


Very interesting @Zerono!

We are also very interested in this. Would be great if you posted your interests/experiences in this regards to the forum. We have thread where we collect these things: Collecting cognitive science patterns that are at play on social media

Thanks to your post I just found a great list (more than you may have wished for :wink: ), also on Wikipedia:


Hi Arnold,

so you assume that every cognitive bias is being used on devices and apps?!


Ah, no, sorry. I just found the resource and posted it here. I think (if you haven’t done that already) we need to go through the list and see how far each of these phenomena apply :slight_smile:

But I see a bunch of them that can be added to the list, like Availability cascade, which looks to be synonymous to a social media Echo chamber.


Interesting, could we do a wiki page where each one can add some more items, following this template:

  • the name with a link to the definition on wikipedia
  • a short sentence to describe it
  • why it relates to smartphone/social media


We have marked @Zerono’s post above as a Wiki post, so anyone can edit. I just formatted the text as a table with hyperlinks and descriptions.



I filled the rows in the table at the top of this thread. Do you agree? Feel free to add some more rows according the same template.