Describe how the shortcut resulted in an error in judgment or thinking. 


Principles of Social Psychology, v. 1.0​:  Introducing Social Psychology

Original Question:

For this week’s Forum, respond to the following:  Pick any of the cognitive shortcuts that humans use that are described in our readings this week (e.g., the different heuristics and biases).  Think of a personal example of a time you used such a shortcut and it resulted in an error.  We all make errors in judgment, so it should not be too much of a challenge to think of a cognitive error you have made at some point in your life.

First, describe the social psychological principle(s) behind the cognitive shortcut you used.  Then, describe the situation you were in and how you used the shortcut.  Describe how the shortcut resulted in an error in judgment or thinking.  Finally, describe how this type of error can be avoided in the future.  Was this particular error a “big deal” in your life?  Why or why not?

Reply to the following response with 200 words minimum. (please make response as if having a conversation, respond directly to some of the statements in below post. This is not providing an analysis of the original post. Respectfully address it and even ask clarifying or additional questions.)


Describe the social psychological principle(s) behind the cognitive shortcut you used.  

The social psychological principles behind the cognitive shortcuts I used are: the availability heuristic and overconfidence. The availability heuristic is a cognitive shortcut that is used when things are easy to recall because they are recent thoughts or memories, and then are applied to making judgements (Chapter 2, IntellusLearning) .Overconfidence is a judgmental bias and is a result of a lack of self awareness and being realistic about your own limitations.

Describe the situation you were in and how you used the shortcut.

When I was pregnant, I was hell bent on an all natural birth. I did not want to do an epidural and I wanted to avoid a c-section at all costs. Many of my girlfriends have children, and almost all of them have given birth naturally with no medical intervention. I have one girlfriend who has had five kids at home in her tub with a Doula. The closer I got to my due date, these were the only stories I thought about, and talked more to friends who gave birth naturally than those who had either had complications or elected for an epidural. I had become convinced that I could easily get this whole birth thing done, and do it naturally, and survive contractions through steady breathing. My mom was also a constant whisper in my ear, since she gave birth to all three of us naturally.

This availability of information caused me to become overconfident. I realize it is healthy to have a birthing plan, and to try your best to stick to that birthing plan. However, this was my first child, and in hindsight, I was so confident that everything would go exactly as I planned, that my error in judgement and refusal to accept that I would be different then my girlfriends and my cry own mother, lead to two weeks of an emotional roller coaster I was ill prepared for.

Describe how the shortcut resulted in an error in judgment or thinking.

At my 39 week appointment, when my midwife measured my belly, I was wider than I was long. Concerned she did an ultrasound, and my daughter had gone sideways. She immediately scheduled us for a C-Section 2 days later, as going into natural labor while our daughter was sideways significantly decreased her chance of survival once my water broke. For two days I was basically inconsolable and lived in fear of going into natural labor. Once I arrived to the hospital and was all prepped for my C-Section, the Doctor did one last ultrasound to check her position, well, she had gone head down again. Since it was our first child, the did not want to do a C-Section and wanted me to go home and wait for her to come naturally. Again, I was an emotional mess. We left the hospital, and surprisingly I started to become confident again, and even thought it was a fluke because this didn’t happen to any of the friends who I had been discussing birth with.

Needless to say, my due date came, and it went, and upon returning to the doctor at 40 weeks and 6 days, I was scheduled for an induction the following day. I called two of my girlfriends who had been induced, but they had horrible experiences, so I began to think I was going to have a horrible experience, again using availability as a shortcut to make my judgement. My induction took three days, and ever steady in my overconfidence that I had built too far back up, I steadily denied the epidural. That is until I hit 7cm, and I couldn’t take it anymore. My husband placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “Babe, I know how strong you are, it’s okay if you take the epidural, we’re having a baby, she’ll know how tough you are later in life.” And with that, we called in the Anesthesiologist, I received my epidural, and about 5 hours later I pushed out the most perfect thing I had ever seen.

Describe how this type of error can be avoided in the future.  Was this particular error a “big deal” in your life?  Why or why not?

When we start trying for our second child, I know that I will not be so persuaded by other people’s birth stories, because now I have my own. I will also not overestimate my ability for brith, pain tolerance, emotional stability, and toughness because I have experienced it and now I have a realistic idea of what my body can handle. For me this was a big deal, I feel that I let too many people influence how I perceived birth and that my chances of nothing happening were higher than what was actually true. My overconfidence caused me to be incredibly emotional in the face of adversity and a complete derail of our birthing plan. I am not saying next time I will be less confident, I will just have a realistic perspective. I now know, on the topic of giving birth, that everyone is different, and at the end of the day, the baby determines the birth plan, not the mother!



Intellus Learning (2017). Chapter 2: Social Learning and Social Cognition. APUS E-Book. Retrieved


In cognitive heuristics humans often make the mistake of going fast without realizing what mistakes are being made through the use of their normal shortcuts. The same can be said about biases and their tendency to create potential issues by automatically assuming things and people are one way when they are not.

If I think back more recently to my day I know I have made a lot of mistakes in my work. These mistakes were made by taking a shortcut that requires a lot more finesse than what I did. Needless to say, I later realized that I made mistakes and had to take extra time to fix them. There was no excuse as to why I made this mistake other than I was being lazy and thinking that I could shave some time off my work assignment. It was a simple mistake that did not lead me into trouble but I can avoid future mistakes like this by just taking the extra time needed to pay more attention. I often find myself trusting my ability to text and hoping that spell check will catch my errors. When at times I eventually read what I wrote and sent to someone much later only to realize that I appear to look like a kindergarten student trying to write for the first time.

Through our readings something stood out to me regarding gambling. In heuristics, there is point about how individuals have a tendency to continue to buy lottery tickets despite knowing that the likelihood of them winning is slim to none. This reminded me of last week’s readings about cognitive dissonance and how people contradict themselves by doing something they know is wrong. Additionally, this brings forth a point regarding biases because they feel that they have a better chance in winning the lottery than getting struck by lightning. Which consequently is actually the opposite. Biases such as believing that they will win the lottery creates a repetitive mistake of buying a lottery ticket before every Wednesday and Saturday in hopes they could win.



Intellus Learning. (2012). Principles of Social Psychology: Social Learning and Social Cognition. Sayer Academy. Retrieved from


Personally, I find myself struck by false consensus bias quite often. False consensus bias is where when meeting someone, we assume they are like us (Stangor, 2013). When a friendship or relationship is just forming, we tend to assume that they think the way we do.  We think that they hold important the same concepts, philosophies, and political stances we do, and are surprised when they do not, especially if that bond forms strongly (Stangor, 2013).  This is in part why when developing a relationship that we hope will be long-standing, it is important to have deep discussions about these types of things going in.  That way, when we find out that someone is strongly against something we strongly support, and it is important enough to either person that it would be considered a deal-breaker, it can be more difficult to deal with after the bond has formed and strengthened than in the initial part of the relationship.

For example, I grew up in a very conservative family.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, by any means, but as I grew older and started to develop my own feelings about things, I realized that I found myself on the other side of the debate, especially once my father gained a Facebook page. I discovered just how against certain things such as abortions, same sex marriage, Democrats, and people of color in general he is whereas I support all of those.  However, I was 30 before I discovered these things about him. While I have never really been close to my father for various reasons, it has definitely affected how I view him, as well as how I view myself.  I often find myself wondering how Someone like me could come from being raised by someone like him, meaning how someone so opposite could have been raised by a person.

This particular instance was a big deal in my life.  I discovered this at a time in my life where I was trying to figure out who I was.  I had broken away from the religious background I grew up in, and started embracing parts of who I am that I had hidden away for a long time because they were seen as wrong or bad by either my family or the church I grew up in in general.  Breaking away from that and following my own path has caused me to feel even more like an outsider in my own family than before.


Stangor, C. (2013). Principles of Social Psychology. Irvington, NY: Flat World Knowledge, Inc.

** Please don’t just rephrase their info, but respond to it. Remember to answer question at the end if there is one. **


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