Article Index


Cognitive Biases

Kahneman formulated his understanding of fast thinking largely through his study of fast thinking. Much of his book Thinking: Fast and Slow (Kahneman, 2011 ) is a discussion of cognitive biases and cognitive distortions. The Liberals, using their voluminous experience getting into power and staying there, were able to utilize cognitive biases in preparing their campaign. The Liberals seemingly frivolous leadership selection process, by my accounts, actually effectively exploited cognitive biases in selecting Trudeau as leader.

Two cognitive biases known as Traditional bias and the Halo effect were influential in winning the election. Traditional bias refers to the tendency of people making a selection based on choices made in the past. Many Canadians have voted Liberal in the past and added to this the young Trudeau represents the tradition of his father. A common expression of this was the reference to Justin Trudeau as Canadian Royalty. The Halo effect occurs because we have a proclivity to prefer the young and the attractive. Trudeau not only had nice hair; he had a nice family, he exercised regularly and he had the CBC who gave the Liberals free media exposure to broadcast Trudeau's halo to the public. While these areas may have been outside the control of Team Mulcair, factors conceptually in their control were neglected.

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