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In cryptography, some ciphers may be labelled with the acronym PFS. This stands for Perfect Forward Secrecy. Some implementations may simply refer to PFS as FS. This acronym means Forward Secrecy or Forward Secure. In any case, they all talk about the same thing. Understanding what Perfect Forward Secrecy means, requires you to understand the basics of cryptographic key exchange.

Cryptography basics

To communicate securely the ideal solution is to use symmetric encryption algorithms. These are fast, much faster than asymmetric algorithms. They, however, have a fundamental problem. Because the same key is used to encrypt and decrypt a message, you cannot send the key over an insecure channel. As such you need to be able to secure the channel first. This is done using asymmetric cryptography in practice.

Note: It would also be possible, if infeasible to use an out-of-band, secure channel, though the difficulty remains in securing that channel.

To secure an insecure channel a process called Diffie-Hellman key exchange is performed. In Diffie-Hellman key exchange, one party, Alice, sends their public key to the other party, Bob. Bob then combines his private key with Alice’s public key to generate a secret. Bob then sends his public key to Alice, who combines it with her private key, allowing her to generate the same secret. In this method, both parties can transmit public information but end up generating the same secret, without ever having to transmit it. This secret can then be used as the encryption key for a fast symmetric encryption algorithm.

Note: Diffie-Hellman key exchange doesn’t natively offer any authentication. An attacker in a Man in the Middle or MitM position could negotiate a secure connection with both Alice and Bob, and quietly monitor the decrypted communications. This issue is solved via PKI or Public Key Infrastructure. On the Internet, this takes the form of trusted Certificate Authorities signing certificates of websites. This allows a user to verify that they’re connecting to the server they expect to.

The problem with standard Diffie-Hellman

While the authentication problem is easy to solve, that’s not the only issue. Websites have a certificate, signed by a certificate authority. This certificate includes a public key, for which the server has the private key. You can use this set of asymmetric keys to communicate securely, however, what happens if that private key is ever compromised?

If an interested, malicious party wanted to decrypt encrypted data, they’d have a hard time of it. Modern encryption has been designed in such a way that it would take at least many millions of years to have a reasonable chance at guessing a single encryption key. A cryptographic system, however, is only as secure as the key. So if the attacker is able to compromise the key, say by hacking into the server, they can use it to decrypt any traffic it was used to encrypt.

This issue obviously has some large requirements. First, the key needs to be compromised. The attacker also needs any encrypted traffic that they want to decrypt. For your average attacker, this is quite a difficult requirement. If, however, the attacker is a malicious ISP, VPN provider, Wi-Fi hotspot owner, or nation-state, they are in a good place to capture vast amounts of encrypted traffic which they may be able to decrypt at some point.

The problem here is that with the server’s private key, the attacker could then generate the secret and use that to decrypt all traffic it was ever used to encrypt. This could allow the attacker to decrypt years of network traffic for all users to a website in one fell swoop.

Perfect Forward Secrecy

The solution to this is to not use the same encryption key for everything. Instead, you want to use ephemeral keys. Perfect forward secrecy requires the server to generate a new asymmetric key pair for each connection. The certificate is still used for authentication but is not actually used for the key negotiation process. The private key is kept in memory only long enough to negotiate the secret before being wiped. Likewise, the secret is only kept for as long as it’s in use before it is cleared. In particularly long sessions, it may even be renegotiated.

Tip: In cipher names, ciphers featuring Perfect Forward Secrecy are typically labelled with DHE or ECDHE. The DH stands or Diffie-Hellman, while the E on the end stands for Ephemeral.

By using a unique secret for each session, the risk of the private key being compromised is greatly reduced. If an attacker is able to compromise the private key, they can decrypt current and future traffic, but they can’t use it to bulk decrypt historical traffic.

As such perfect forward secrecy provides broad protection against blanket network traffic capture. While in the case of the server being compromised, some data may be decrypted, it is only current data, not all historical data. Additionally, once the compromise has been detected the issue can be resolved leaving only a relatively small amount of total lifetime traffic being decryptable by the attacker.

Conclusion

Perfect Forward Secrecy is a tool to protect against blanket historical surveillance. An attacker capable of collecting and storing vast troves of encrypted communications may be able to decrypt those if they ever gain access to the private key. PFS ensures that each session uses unique ephemeral keys. This limits the ability of the attacker to “only” be able to decrypt current traffic, rather than all historical traffic.

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Galaxy S Blaze 4G Is Spring 2012’S Perfect Basic Smartphone

Galaxy S Blaze 4G is Spring 2012’s perfect basic smartphone

There’s a device coming to T-Mobile in March that goes by the name Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G, and not unlike its Galaxy S II relatives, it’s got everything the average customer needs to have a fabulous smartphone experience through the summer of 2012. There’s a lot of talk going around of quad-core processors, utterly amazing cameras, and modems that will clear your device out of all unconnectedness, but here’s the long and short of it: the device you’re looking at right now is all you, the average smartphone user, really ever needs. It’s not a flagship, it’s not a top-tier device, it’s not even the most stylish device you can buy for the price: but it is just what you need.

This device has a 3.97-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen on it. That means it has the ability to be brighter than you could ever possibly want it to be. People will be wondering why you have a spotlight in your hand. I used the Galaxy S II from AT&T for weeks before it finally got replaced due to a challenge by the iPhone 4S, and I can tell you without hesitation that I’ve never held a brighter screen in my hands – and yes, it’s the same screen technology you’re getting here in the Blaze. In addition, the 3.97-inch screen size fits right in the range of “sweet spot” for those of you hoping to not only have enough room to browse the web and play any app under the sun, but also to reach the entirety of the screen with just your one thumb in one hand.

This device will launch with the tried and true Android version 2.3 Gingerbread with Samsung’s own highly-tuned user interface by the name of TouchWiz. For those of you that’ve used this newest version of TouchWiz, you know it’s the next best thing to vanilla. Vanilla is what you get when Google makes the operating system and doesn’t add any changes between it and the carrier. Samsung’s changes make the whole experience better than any other hardware company that currently does it.

Do I believe that groups like HTC and LG will wow us at Mobile World Congress with their brand new ultra-fantastic smartphones? Yes I certainly hope so! Do I have confidence that the device they’re going to release will be out before early Summer? Not a chance! So what we’ve got here is a period of waiting in between and a device that costs just $150 after a $50 mail-in rebate, and it runs on the fastest network T-Mobile has to offer yet as well.

So here it is: I guarantee you will be satisfied by this device without me even having to pick it up. I’ve experienced every component this device will be working with, including Qualcomm’s 1.5GHz dual-core processor inside on other devices, and unless Samsung somehow flips out and screws this device up royally somehow or another, they’ve got a perfectly legitimate and awesome device for sale soon at T-Mobile.

What Is Perception Bias?

Perception bias is the tendency to perceive ourselves and our environment in a subjective way. Although we like to think our judgment is impartial, we are, in fact, unconsciously influenced by our assumptions and expectations.

Example: Perception biasAfter a few weeks at your new job, you notice that some of your colleagues always go for after-work drinks on Fridays. It’s not an official team event, but each week the same person asks who’s joining and books a table. However, no one ever asks the older colleagues to join, assuming that they won’t be interested.

If left unchecked, perception bias can affect how we evaluate ourselves and others. As a result, we may form inaccurate impressions.This, in turn, can impact the quality of our decision-making.

What is perception bias?

Perception bias is a broad term used to describe different situations in which we perceive inaccuracies in our environment. It is a type of cognitive bias that occurs when we subconsciously form assumptions or draw conclusions based on our beliefs, expectations, or emotions.

Perception bias works like a filter, helping us make sense of all the information we are exposed to in our surroundings. As a result, our perception of reality is often distorted. For example, this can cause us to unfairly label people or make inferences about their abilities on the basis of superficial observations or stereotypes.

Why does perception bias occur?

Perception bias occurs because our perception is selective. Here, perception refers to the process of screening, selecting, organizing, and interpreting stimuli, such as words or objects, in order to give them meaning. Our brain chooses to hone in on one or very few stimuli out of the multitude of stimuli surrounding us. This is one way our brains differentiate between important and unimportant things.

Due to this, our perception of a given situation is not a photographic representation of reality. Rather, it is a unique representation, informed by objective information, our prior beliefs and expectations (called cognitive factors), and our hopes, desires, and emotions (called motivational factors). Motivational and cognitive factors are sometimes intertwined, but they can also function separately.

What are different types of perception bias?

There are many types of bias that can influence our perceptions, whether of objects, others, or ourselves. Although there is no exhaustive list, the following are some common types of perception bias:

Visual Perception. When we look at something, our brains use the information available (like visual cues or prior experience) to make sense of an object. This means that our visual processing of faces can be biased. For example, a person’s group membership may lead us to view their face as untrustworthy. Negative attitudes and beliefs like outgroup bias can have an effect on our visual perception.

Self-perception. People are often biased in their self-perceptions, failing to assess themselves accurately. For example, people may take personal responsibility for successes while denying personal responsibility for failures (self-serving bias), or they may underestimate their performance and abilities, casting themselves in a more negative light (self-effacement bias). When comparing the self to others, people often commit what is known as the false consensus effect, believing that our opinions or behaviors are generalizable to the general population.

Perception bias examples

Example: Perception bias in the workplaceYou are the lead for an important project at work, and your manager asks you to present your progress to the executive board. You spend hours preparing the presentation with your team. After the presentation, your manager congratulates you for your progress and the presentation. In reply, you say “I worked really hard on this,” happy to take all the credit. Since you are the project lead, you believe this praise is fair. However, this is not entirely accurate because you worked as a team. This is an example of a type of perception bias called self-enhancement.

Selective perception bias can help explain why individuals with opposing views tend to find the same media coverage to be biased against them.

Example: Selective perception bias and the “hostile media effect”In one study, researchers took a sample of pro-Israeli, pro-Arab, and neutral college students. They asked them to watch the same set of televised news segments covering the Arab-Israeli conflict, broadcast nationally in the United States over a ten-day period.

Researchers found that each side saw the news coverage as biased in favor of the other side.

Pro-Arab students thought the news segments were generally biased in favor of Israel.

Pro-Israeli students thought the segments were generally biased against Israel.

Neutral students gave opinions that fell between the two groups.

They also found that these disagreements were not simply differences of opinion; they were differences in perception. In particular, pro-Arab and pro-Israeli students also differed in their perceptions of the number of favorable and unfavorable references that had been made about Israel during the news program.

Pro-Arab students reported that 42 percent of the references to Israel had been favorable, and only 26 percent had been unfavorable.

Pro-Israeli students recalled 57 percent of the references to Israel as having been unfavorable and only 16 percent as having been favorable.

The researchers concluded that individuals with strong preexisting attitudes on an issue perceive media coverage as unfairly biased against their side and in favor of their opponents’ point of view. This happens because when people become committed to a particular cause or opinion, their perceptions often change in order to remain consistent with this commitment.

How to reduce perception bias

Although it is not possible to entirely eliminate perception bias, there are ways to reduce it. More specifically, when you make a decision or form an impression of someone, you can ask yourself the following questions:

Do I have a motive that makes me see things a certain way?

What are my expectations from this situation or decision?

Have I discussed my thoughts or opinions with people who don’t agree with me?

If you find yourself making absolute statements about others, using strong words like “always” or “all,” ask yourself how accurate this is, and whether you have evidence to back up your claim.

Other types of research bias Frequently asked questions about perception bias

What is an everyday life example of perception bias?

A real-life example of perception bias is the false consensus effect. Because we spend most of our time with friends, family, and colleagues who share the same opinions or values we do, we are often misled to believe that the majority of people think or act in ways similar to us. This explains, for instance, why some people take office supplies home: they may genuinely feel that this behavior is more common than it really is.

Why is perception bias a problem?

Perception bias is a problem because it prevents us from seeing situations or people objectively. Rather, our expectations, beliefs, or emotions interfere with how we interpret reality. This, in turn, can cause us to misjudge ourselves or others. For example, our prejudices can interfere with whether we perceive people’s faces as friendly or unfriendly.

What is selective perception?

Selective perception is the unconscious process by which people screen, select, and notice objects in their environment. During this process, information tends to be selectively perceived in ways that align with existing attitudes, beliefs, and goals.

Although this allows us to concentrate only on the information that is relevant for us at present, it can also lead to perception bias. For example, while driving, if you become hyper-focused on reaching your exit on a highway, your brain may filter visual stimuli so that you can only focus on things you need to notice in order to exit the highway. However, this can also cause you to miss other things happening around you on the road.

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What Is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is the ability to effectively analyze information and form a judgment.

To think critically, you must be aware of your own biases and assumptions when encountering information, and apply consistent standards when evaluating sources.

Critical thinking skills help you to:

Identify credible sources

Evaluate and respond to arguments

Assess alternative viewpoints

Test hypotheses against relevant criteria

Why is critical thinking important?

Critical thinking is important for making judgments about sources of information and forming your own arguments. It emphasizes a rational, objective, and self-aware approach that can help you to identify credible sources and strengthen your conclusions.

Critical thinking is important in all disciplines and throughout all stages of the research process. The types of evidence used in the sciences and in the humanities may differ, but critical thinking skills are relevant to both.

In academic writing, critical thinking can help you to determine whether a source:

Is free from research bias

Provides evidence to support its research findings

Considers alternative viewpoints

Outside of academia, critical thinking goes hand in hand with information literacy to help you form opinions rationally and engage independently and critically with popular media.

Critical thinking examples

Critical thinking can help you to identify reliable sources of information that you can cite in your research paper. It can also guide your own research methods and inform your own arguments.

Outside of academia, critical thinking can help you to be aware of both your own and others’ biases and assumptions.

Academic examples

Example: Good critical thinking in an academic contextYou’re writing a research paper on recent innovations in diabetes treatments. You read an article that claims positive results for an at-home treatment that was recently developed. The results of the research are impressive, and the treatment seems to be groundbreaking.

However, when you compare the findings of the study with other current research, you determine that the results seem improbable. You analyze the paper again, consulting the sources it cites.

You notice that the research was funded by the pharmaceutical company that created the treatment. Because of this, you view its results skeptically and determine that more independent research is necessary to confirm or refute them.

Example: Poor critical thinking in an academic contextYou’re researching a paper on the impact wireless technology has had on developing countries that previously did not have large-scale communications infrastructure. You read an article that seems to confirm your hypothesis: the impact is mainly positive. Rather than evaluating the research methodology, you accept the findings uncritically.

In this instance, you have failed to engage with the source critically and have displayed confirmation bias in accepting its conclusions based on a belief you already held.

Nonacademic examples

Example: Good critical thinking in a nonacademic contextYou are thinking about upgrading the security features of your home. You want to install an alarm system but are unsure what brand is the most reliable. You search home improvement websites and find a five-star review article of an alarm system. The review is positive. The alarm seems easy to install and reliable.

However, you decide to compare this review article with consumer reviews on a different site. You find that these reviews are not as positive. Some customers have had problems installing the alarm, and some have noted that it activates for no apparent reason.

Example: Poor critical thinking in a nonacademic contextYou support a candidate in an upcoming election. You visit an online news site affiliated with their political party and read an article that criticizes their opponent. The article claims that the opponent is inexperienced in politics. You accept this without evidence, because it fits your preconceptions about the opponent.

In this case, you failed to look critically at the claims of the article and check whether they were backed up with evidence because you were already inclined to believe them.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Try for free

How to think critically

There is no single way to think critically. How you engage with information will depend on the type of source you’re using and the information you need.

However, you can engage with sources in a systematic and critical way by asking certain questions when you encounter information. Like the CRAAP test, these questions focus on the currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose of a source of information.

When encountering information, ask:

Who is the author? Are they an expert in their field?

What do they say? Is their argument clear? Can you summarize it?

When did they say this? Is the source current?

Where is the information published? Is it an academic article? Is it peer-reviewed?

Why did the author publish it? What is their motivation?

How do they make their argument? Is it backed up by evidence? Does it rely on opinion, speculation, or appeals to emotion? Do they address alternative arguments?

Critical thinking also involves being aware of your own biases, not only those of others. When you make an argument or draw your own conclusions, you can ask similar questions about your own writing:

Am I only considering evidence that supports my preconceptions?

Is my argument expressed clearly and backed up with credible sources?

Would I be convinced by this argument coming from someone else?

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What Is An Interjection?

An interjection is a word or phrase used to express a feeling or to request or demand something. While interjections are a part of speech, they are not grammatically connected to other parts of a sentence.

Interjections are common in everyday speech and informal writing. While some interjections such as “well” and “indeed” are acceptable in formal conversation, it’s best to avoid interjections in formal or academic writing.

Examples: Interjections in a sentenceWow! That bird is huge.

Uh-oh. I forgot to get gas.

We’re not lost. We just need to go, um, this way.

Psst, what’s the answer to number four?

How are interjections used in sentences?

Interjections add meaning to a sentence or context by expressing a feeling, making a demand, or emphasizing a thought.

Interjections can be either a single word or a phrase, and they can be used on their own or as part of a sentence.

Examples: Uses of interjections Phew!

Shoot, I’ve broken a nail.

Oh really? I didn’t know that.

As interjections are a grammatically independent part of speech, they can often be excluded from a sentence without impacting its meaning.

Examples: Sentences with and without interjections

Oh boy, I’m tired.

I’m tired.

Ouch! That hurts!

That hurts!

Primary interjections

A primary interjection is a word or sound that can only be used as an interjection. Primary interjections do not have alternative meanings and can’t function as another part of speech (i.e., noun, verb, or adjective).

Primary interjections are typically just sounds without a clear etymology. As such, while they sometimes have standard spellings, a single interjection may be written in different ways (e.g., “um-hum” or “mm-hmm”).

Examples: Primary interjections in a sentenceUgh! That’s disgusting.

Um-hum. I think that could work.

We won the game. Yippee!

Secondary interjections

A secondary interjection is a word that is typically used as another part of speech (such as a noun, verb, or adjective) that can also be used as an interjection.

Examples: Secondary interjections in a sentence

Goodness

! That was a close one.

Shoot! My flight has been canceled.

Awesome! Do that trick again.

Volitive interjections

A volitive interjection is used to give a command or make a request. For example, the volitive interjection “shh” or “shush” is used to command someone to be quiet.

Examples: Volitive interjections in a sentenceShh! I can’t focus when you’re singing.

Psst. Pass me an eraser.

Ahem. Please pay attention.

Emotive interjections

An emotive interjection is used to express an emotion or to indicate a reaction to something. For example, the emotive interjection “ew” is used to express disgust.

Curse words, also called expletives, are commonly used (in informal contexts) as emotive interjections to express frustration or anger.

Examples: Emotive interjections in a sentenceEw. I’m not eating that.

Yay! I’m so excited to see you.

Yum! This apple pie is delicious.

Cognitive interjections

A cognitive interjection is used to express a thought or indicate a thought process. For example, the cognitive interjection “um” can express confusion or indicate that the speaker is thinking.

Examples: Cognitive interjections in a sentenceUm, can you explain it once more?

Wow! I wasn’t expecting that.

Eureka! I’ve solved the puzzle.

Greetings and parting words

Greetings and parting words/phrases are interjections used to acknowledge or welcome someone or to express good wishes at the end of a conversation.

Examples: Greetings and parting words/phrases in a sentenceHey!

Hello! It’s good to see you.

Bye!

See you soon! Drive safe.

Interjections and punctuation

How an interjection is punctuated depends on the context and the intensity of the emotion or thought being expressed.

Exclamation points are most commonly used along with interjections to emphasize the intensity of an emotion, thought, or demand.

When the emotion or thought being expressed is less extreme, an interjection can also be followed by a period. If an interjection is used to express uncertainty or to ask a question, it should be followed by a question mark.

Examples: Interjections and punctuationOh. I don’t know.

We’ve just won the lottery. Hurray!

Hmm?

When an interjection is used as part of a sentence, it should be set off from the rest of the sentence using commas.

Examples: Interjections within a sentenceHmm, how are we going to do this?

It was an interesting lecture, indeed.

The project is, uh, going well.

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If you want to know more about nouns, pronouns, verbs, and other parts of speech, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations and examples.

Frequently asked questions Sources in this article

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Sources

Aarts, B. (2011). Oxford modern English grammar. Oxford University Press.

Butterfield, J. (Ed.). (2024). Fowler’s dictionary of modern English usage (4th ed.). Oxford University Press.

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Garner, B. A. (2024). Garner’s modern English usage (4th ed.). Oxford University Press.

What Is Optimism Bias?

Optimism bias is the tendency to overestimate the likelihood of positive events and underestimate the likelihood of negative events. Optimism bias causes most people to expect that things will work out well, even if rationality suggests that problems are inevitable in life.

Example: Optimism biasYou’ve just bought a new bike, and the salesperson asks you whether you also want to look for a helmet.

Because you’ve been riding a bike since you were young, you think the chances of getting involved in an accident are really small. You conclude that you’ll be fine without it. Optimism bias makes you underestimate the risk of riding a bike without a helmet.

Although optimism bias can motivate us to overcome obstacles, it can also cause us to ignore potential risks, resulting in poor decision-making.

What is optimism bias?

Optimism bias (or unrealistic optimism) is a type of unconscious cognitive bias. It refers to an unrealistically favorable attitude that people have towards themselves and people that are close to them. Positive illusions help us maintain self-esteem and avoid discomfort, at least in the short term.

Optimism bias causes people to believe that they are less likely to experience negative events than other people. For example, people expect that their careers, marriages, or health will be better than those of others, and that the financial troubles, divorces, or illnesses that happen to other people will not happen to them.

This irrational belief seems to be deeply ingrained in humans. Studies suggest that it is observed in about 80% of the population (but, notably, not among people with depression).

Why does optimism bias occur?

Throughout human evolution this characteristic served us well and was passed down from one generation to the next. In other words, because optimism bias proved beneficial to humans, we are inclined to mispredict the future.

There are two key assumptions at the root of optimism bias:

That we exercise some level of control over the world around us, including what will happen to us in the future.

That we, as individuals, possess more positive traits than the average person.

Several factors can help explain optimism bias:

We have the tendency to selectively update our beliefs and expectations about the future. We are more likely to update our beliefs based on positive information rather than negative information. This, in turn, perpetuates optimism bias.

Optimism is beneficial to our mental and physical health. Expecting positive outcomes reduces stress and anxiety. Optimistic patients are more likely to believe that they will recover, leading them to adopt behaviours that increase their chances (e.g., exercise, healthy diet).

Overall, optimism bias enables us to cope with our environment and worry less about uncertainty. Because of this, it can often lead to better results than unbiased or rational beliefs.

Why does optimism bias matter?

Because a majority of people are susceptible to optimism bias, it’s important to be aware of its influence on our perception and judgment.

Optimism bias can be a problem when it prevents us from accurately anticipating risk. In project management, for instance, optimism bias can cause us to underestimate the budget and time needed, a common error called the planning fallacy. Failure to assess potential hazards can also mean failing to take out sufficient insurance or to get regular medical check-ups. It can even cause us to adopt harmful habits, such as smoking.

On the other hand, optimism is also linked to achievement in several domains, such as sports, business, and education. When we are optimistic, we are more motivated to try harder, which in turn can influence the outcome. Sometimes, expecting positive things can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Optimism bias examples

Optimism bias can also influence collective behaviour and produce large-scale effects.

Example: Optimism bias and the economySeveral experts consider optimism bias to be one of the core causes of the financial crisis of 2007-2008. Individuals, analysts, and government officials were all too optimistic that the economy would grow (i.e., that businesses would continue to be profitable, that there would be more jobs for people, and that incomes would increase), leading them to ignore any warning signs.

This shows that when many people hold unrealistic expectations, their bias accumulates and is amplified, producing large scale effects.

Optimism bias can have negative consequences, particularly when serious risks are disregarded.

Example: Optimism bias and climate changeSome argue that optimism bias may help explain why we don’t do anything about climate change, even though we acknowledge the threat. Studies have shown that people who are more optimistic about a range of possible future events (e.g., contracting an illness, World War III) are also less concerned about the environment.

Additionally, among climate skeptics in particular, more optimism is associated with less guilt, less perceived responsibility, and lower behavioural intentions. Thus, overall, optimism seems to be negatively associated with an active response to environmental change.

How to avoid optimism bias

Although optimism bias is part of human nature (and can’t be entirely avoided), there are ways to keep it in check:

Perform a project “premortem.” A premortem analysis starts with the hypothesis that your project has failed. With that in mind, you try to come up with possible reasons why. This allows you to spot the weaknesses in your project plan and prepare for the future.

Use the availability heuristic. Actively attempt to retrieve negative past experiences or times things didn’t go as planned. Here, the purpose is not to demotivate yourself, but to learn from the past so as to make sensible choices in the future.

Take an outsider’s approach. Take an objective approach when making plans. For example, when you estimate how long you will need to write a paper, seek out information about the average time it takes most people and adjust your initial assumptions accordingly.

Other types of research bias Frequently asked questions about optimism bias

What is the opposite of optimism bias?

The opposite of optimism bias is pessimism bias. Optimism bias occurs when we overestimate our chances of experiencing positive events in our lives, while pessimism bias occurs when we overestimate our chance of experiencing negative events.

For example, pessimism bias could cause someone to think they are going to fail an exam, even though they are well prepared and usually get good grades.

What is a positive illusion?

A positive illusion is a form of self-deception under which people have inflated, favorable attitudes about themselves or others close to them.

The most common positive illusions involve:

Exaggerating one’s positive traits

Overestimating one’s degree of control in life

Harboring overly optimistic beliefs about future events (also called optimism bias).

What is the planning fallacy?

The planning fallacy refers to people’s tendency to underestimate the resources needed to complete a future task, despite knowing that previous tasks have also taken longer than planned.

For example, people generally tend to underestimate the cost and time needed for construction projects. The planning fallacy occurs due to people’s tendency to overestimate the chances that positive events, such as a shortened timeline, will happen to them. This phenomenon is called optimism bias.

What is a self-fulfilling prophecy?

This suggests that beliefs have the power to alter people’s behavior in such a way that they become a new reality in the end. Optimism bias can create a self-fulfilling prophecy: when we expect positive things, we are more likely to align our actions with this belief and try harder to influence the outcome.

What is positivity bias?

Positivity bias occurs when a person judges individual members of a group positively, even when they have negative impressions or judgments of the group as a whole. Positivity bias is closely related to optimism bias, or the expectation that things will work out well, even if rationality suggests that problems are inevitable in life.

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