Home Theories Distinction bias

Distinction bias

Reviewed by expert Scientifically proven

Distinction bias is a cognitive bias that occurs when we tend to view two options as more different than they actually are when they are presented together. This bias can influence our decision-making by making us believe that one option is better than the other, even if there is little actual difference between the two. We tend to overemphasize the differences and ignore similarities, which can lead to poor judgments and missed opportunities. Understanding this bias can help marketers and designers create more effective messaging and improve the overall user experience on their websites or apps.

Table of contents:
  1. Examples of Distinction Bias
    1. Example 1: Purchasing Shoes
    2. Example 2: Choosing a College
  2. How Distinction Bias Affects Decision-Making
  3. How to Combat Distinction Bias
  4. In Conclusion

Distinction Bias: Why Our Choices Aren't Always Rational

Distinction bias is a cognitive bias that affects decision-making. It occurs when people prioritize options that are more different or distinctive into a set, even if those distinctions are irrelevant to the decision-making process. This bias can lead to biased choices that aren't necessarily the best option for an individual.

Examples of Distinction Bias

To better understand distinction bias, let's look at some examples.

Example 1: Purchasing Shoes

Imagine you are in the market for a new pair of shoes. You enter a store and see several options that fit your needs. One pair is comfortable, durable, and in your price range. The other pair is slightly uncomfortable, less durable, but has a distinct color that catches your eye. Which do you choose?

Many people would choose the second pair of shoes because they stand out due to their unique color. The distinctiveness of the color creates an emotional response that can outweigh the rational decision of choosing a more durable and comfortable option.

Example 2: Choosing a College

Another example of distinction bias is seen in the college application process. When looking for colleges, many students may focus on the most well-known or prestigious options, even if those schools don't offer the best program for their desired major.

The prestige of the school stands out as more distinctive than the program's quality, leading to a biased choice that isn't necessarily the best option for that student's education and career goals.

How Distinction Bias Affects Decision-Making

Distinction bias can affect decision-making in several ways. It can lead individuals to make choices that are more emotional than rational. When presented with choices that stand out due to their unique features, people are more likely to choose them over more practical options.

Additionally, the bias can stem from a lack of information regarding the options. When we don't have complete information about each option, we tend to rely on the most distinctive or well-known aspect of each choice.

Finally, distinction bias can be influenced by social factors, such as peer pressure or societal norms. We may choose an option based on how it stands out to other people, even if that choice isn't the best for our individual needs.

How to Combat Distinction Bias

To combat distinction bias, it's important to be aware of its influence on decision-making. Here are some strategies for avoiding distinction bias:

  1. Identify and prioritize key decision factors: When making a decision, identify the most important factors that will impact the outcome. Focus on those factors rather than the more distinctive aspects of each choice.

  2. Gather complete information: Do research on each option to gain a complete understanding of the pros and cons of each option. This will help you avoid making a choice based on a specific feature without considering the bigger picture.

  3. Consider the long-term outcome: When making decisions, consider the long-term outcome rather than immediate gratification. This will help you avoid making emotionally biased choices.

  4. Seek objective perspectives: Ask for input from trusted individuals who are not emotionally invested in the decision. They can provide objective perspectives that can help combat personal biases.

In Conclusion

Distinction bias is a common cognitive bias that can influence decision-making. It's essential to be aware of its influence and take steps to combat it when making important choices. By focusing on the most critical decision factors, gathering complete information, considering long-term outcomes, and seeking objective perspectives, we can make more rational and unbiased decisions.

A new cognitive bias in your inbox every week

You'll get to learn more about CRO and psychology. You'll be able to take experimenting to a whole new level!

* We send our mails on Monday morning btw.

Will you use psychology for your experimentation process?

Are you curious about how to apply this bias in experimentation? We've got that information available for you!

Join over 452+ users

  • Lifetime access to all biases
  • Filter on metrics, page type, implementation effort
  • More examples and code for experimentation

Choose your subscription!

Pay with Stripe

Lifetime deal PREMIUM

Get access to the search engine, filter page, and future features.

I want this

Lifetime deal

Get access to the search engine and filter page.

I want this

Do you think you know enough about CRO?

Join our monthly mailing to continue learning more and more about CRO and psychology.