Assume I had a business. That business would've been very close to be sold to a bigger company, if only I didn't mess up some of my papers. Thing is though, I didn't really only mess these papers. The issues started years ago when I thought I'd be smart and not fully fill out all the forms and so on. In time, it all added up, but given that it was some precise papers at the end that got me, I'm prone to say "ah, if only this [most recent evil] didn't happen!".

What bias am I guilty of?

  • $\begingroup$ Recency bias might be appropriate. $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    Dec 24, 2019 at 12:01
  • $\begingroup$ Hindsight bias? $\endgroup$ Dec 27, 2019 at 12:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers I think "hindsight" doesn't fit, because although I having that bias is pre-requisite to commiting the "crime", it's not part of the issue I was talking about directly. I believe outcome bias works in tandem, together with recency bias, in this case, upon further reading. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel M
    Dec 27, 2019 at 16:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ To find the most appropriate name for bias, you need to exactly word out two things in layman terms: 1) What was the essence of the problematic behaviour ("be smart and not fully fill out all the forms"): ignorance, naivety, laziness, carelessness...? 2) How would you most accurately describe the bias: ascribing the problem to a) a single event vs multiple events, b) a single event vs long-term behaviour or attitude to work c)...? $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Dec 28, 2019 at 12:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This may also be a defensive mechanism rather than a bias - something along the lines of minimisation where I admit to only the minimum fault possible so as to avoid guilt over the much larger crime committed. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Dec 29, 2019 at 19:58

1 Answer 1


The described scenario is about ascribing the problem to a single mistake, while the real problem was long-term wrong behaviour. From the list of cognitive biases or fallacies, this is the closest what I could find:

Fallacy of the single cause:

The fallacy of the single cause, also known as complex cause, causal oversimplification, causal reductionism, and reduction fallacy, is a fallacy of questionable cause that occurs when it is assumed that there is a single, simple cause of an outcome when in reality it may have been caused by a number of only jointly sufficient causes. It can be logically reduced to: " X caused Y; therefore, X was the only cause of Y" (although A,B,C...etc. also contributed to Y.) (Wikipedia)

The terms bias and fallacy are used to describe how being unaware of deceptive logic or prejudice results in wrong conclusions. In the scenario in the question, one is consciously trying to interpret the situation in attempt to avoid the full truth, which can be described with the terms, such as:

  • Minimisation - a type of deception involving denial coupled with rationalisation in situations where complete denial is implausible (Wikipedia).
  • Belittling - regarding or portraying as less impressive or important than appearances indicate (Dictionary.com).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.