Thursday, January 23, 2020

List of Psychological Biases for Apologetics

In one of my apologetics presentations, I ask the audience to shout out as many logical fallacies as they can in 15 seconds and they usually list about seven. I then ask them to shout out all the psychological biases that they can and I almost say confirmation bias and nothing else. People generally seem more aware of fallacies and correctly recognize them as errors in reasoning, but few people are aware of the huge number of psychological factors that affect our every decision.

When I first started studying psychology and apologetics, I thought that people were rational beings. I quickly discovered that we are not as rational as we think. However, it wasn't until years of studying bias and experience interacting with people that helped me realize that people are far from rational. Here's the thing though: we can be rational, but when it comes to topics like religion, politics, or any other emotionally charged topic, it requires a lot of hard work to be rational. We need the patience to withhold premature judgments, we need the courage to confront our emotions and challenge the standard view of our social groups, and we need the humility to admit we might be wrong or ignorant.

Below is a list of all the broadly accepted psychological factors I could find that influence our reasoning, usually in a non-rational way. Most, if not all of these biases are unconscious so we cannot even know if they are affecting us. We know they exist because of clever experiments by psychologists. These are the factors we must overcome when we make decisions and the factors we need to help others avoid when doing apologetics. What's especially interesting about these is after people are made aware of these factors, they almost always say it didn't have an effect on them, but the data do not lie.
Image result for bias
What's unique about this list compared to others you might find on the internet is that I use illustrations that present these in the context of apologetics and I've cross-referenced each factor with related ones and fallacies.

Please let me know if you think others should be added or if something is unclear. This list is meant to be a reference for myself and anyone else who wants to use it.

Affect Heuristic - Then tendency to rely on our current emotions to make quick decisions. Disgust is particularly powerful for moral decisions. When we make decisions based on our emotions, we usually come up with posthoc (after the fact) reasons for our decision.

Same or nearly the same intuitive cognitive style

Related to an appeal to emotions

Anchoring Effect - When we have a value or representation in our mind, this becomes the standard for which we judge other options, even if it's arbitrary. In other words, this value or belief becomes your anchor for how you judge other things in relation.

Same or nearly the same as arbitrary coherence.

Related to framing and priming.

Apophenia - the tendency to see patterns, meaning, or connections in randomness. Essentially, this is seeing shapes in clouds or finding hidden codes in the Bible. In apologetics, believers are accused of this when they claim there is design in the universe. However, the same critique can be aimed at evolution so both sides need to make a case that they are not falling victim to this bias.

Same or nearly the same as agenticity, paternicity, the clustering illusion, hot-hand fallacy, and pareidolia.

Related to the false cause fallacy (aka causal fallacy), gambler's fallacy

Arbitrary Coherence - the tendency to form a coherent view or argument based on an arbitrary value. Once an arbitrary value is accepted, people tend to act coherently based on that value.

Same or nearly the same as the anchoring effect.

Related to framing, and priming.

Availability Heuristic - The tendency to make decisions or draw conclusions based on the data that we hear about most often or most recently instead of a systematic comparison of all the data.

Same or nearly the same as base rate fallacy.

Related to the false-consensus effect, cherry-picking (fallacy).

Backfire Effect - When a person moves farther away from a view after hearing an argument for it. This is probably the best explanation for why neither person usually changes their mind when debating religion, politics, or other heated topics.

Same or nearly the same as belief perseverance and group polarization.

Related to belief bias, confirmation bias, reactance.

Bandwagon Effect - The tendency to prefer popular options. People might be hesitant to become a committed Christian because they don't see many other people who are.

Same or nearly the same as an appeal to the majority.

Related to the bystander effect, false-consensus effect, individualism (contrasts), mere exposure, reactance (contrasts).

Base Rate Fallacy - The tendency to ignore the base (average) probability of something occurring in favor of new or readily available information. An example of this is when someone points to a mutation as evidence for evolution but neglects the extremely low average rate of beneficial mutations, especially beneficial mutations that insert new information into the genome.

Same or nearly the same as the availability heuristic

Related to the cherry-picking (fallacy), hot-hand fallacy, regression to the mean, representativeness heuristic.

Belief Bias - The tendency to evaluate arguments based on what we already believe rather than the strength of the premises. In other words, to rationalize, ignore, or misunderstand argument that would disprove what we already believe. If we believe a conclusion, then we will deny any premises that do not support our conclusion without careful consideration of them.

Same or nearly the same as rationalization.

Related to affirming the consequent (fallacy), belief perseverance, confirmation bias, and straw-man fallacy.

Belief Perseverance - The tendency to maintain a belief even in the face of contrary evidence.

Same or nearly the same as belief perseverance and group polarization.

Related to belief bias, confirmation bias

Blindspot Bias – The tendency for people to see themselves as less susceptible to biases than other people. This one is more likely to affect people with high IQ or education. Anecdotally, I've noticed that people who have converted or deconverted as an adult tend to be guilty of this by thinking they have transcended above bias.

Same or nearly the same as self-serving bias.

Related to belief bias, belief perseverance, confirmation bias.

Bystander Effect - The tendency to not respond to a situation when there is a crowd of people also not responding. When we see a car on the side of the road, we don't stop to help because nobody else is stopping to help. This effect happens because we don't want to stand out, rationalize that we might not be needed, or we actually think we might be wrong and everyone else is right. In apologetics and theology, this is when we see other people accepting sinful behaviors so we don't try to stop it (if and when we are in the proper role to do so).

Same or nearly the same as an appeal to the majority (fallacy) or bandwagon fallacy.

Related to the availability heuristic, false-consensus effect, normalization, the spotlight effect, systematic desensitization.

Cognitive Ease - We are more likely to accept something or like it if it is easy to process. This includes the content, the way the content is presented, and the medium used to present it. Using a clear font when writing, speaking loud enough for people to hear, high-resolution video, and simplifying a complex concept are just a few ways to take advantage of this bias.

Same or nearly the same as

Related to mere exposure

Cognitive Dissonance - The uncomfortable feeling we get when we have inconsistent beliefs or when our actions do not align with our beliefs. When our actions and beliefs are inconsistent, we usually change our minds to align with our beliefs because they are more observable so people won't recognize our hypocrisy. This can be used in apologetics to show that a person's moral concerns (environmentalism, politics, human rights, etc.) do not align with their beliefs because there is no objective morality without God.

Same or nearly the same as

Related to

Commitment Bias - The tendency to stick with what we're already doing or already believe even when new evidence suggests we should change. Anyone with a firm commitment to their current beliefs about God is susceptible to this.

Same or nearly the same as escalation of commitment, hasty generalization (fallacy), premature cognitive commitment, sunk cost fallacy.

Related to appeal to authority, backfire effect, foot-in-the-door technique, self-herding, status-quo bias

Compensatory Control - When we lose control in one situation or domain, we try to compensate by gaining control in another area. During an election year when there is political uncertainty, religious people tend to view God as being more in control than during non-election years. We gain compensatory control through work, routine, parenting, and many other domains.

Same or nearly the same as ...


Related to attachment

Confirmation Bias - This is has become a fairly broad term to describe any bias, action, or thing that helps us confirm what we already believe. It can take the form of looking only for confirmatory evidence (as opposed to evidence that potentially disproves our view), forgetting or ignoring evidence that doesn't support our view, or interpreting evidence in a twisted way to fit our view.

Same or nearly the same as belief bias, belief perseverance, myside bias

Related to the availability heuristic, backfire effect, cherry-picking (fallacy), and pretty much everything else.

Contrast Effect - The tendency to judge something in comparison to something that came immediately before it. If you give an argument or a presentation after someone else, the quality of what you say will be judged in comparison to the person who spoke before you. This can help and hurt in apologetics depending on the person who went before you. This can apply to the quality of your videos, the design of your website, interviews, in-person or online conversations, and just about anywhere else.

Same or nearly the same as

Related to anchoring, arbitrary coherence

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Decision Fatigue - As we make more and more choices throughout the day, we become more mentally fatigued and less willing to put in the cognitive effort to make careful decisions. Whether this effect exists is highly debated. A recent paper suggests it does exist, just not as broadly as originally thought. In apologetics, this may come into play if you ask too many hard questions of someone. They may just get tired of answering and stop trying, in which case they may just leave, resort to name-calling, or answer without thinking (see other biases).

Same or nearly the same as ego depletion

Related to

Decoy Effect - When there are two competitive options, the decoy option is like one of them but less desirable, making the one it is like seem best. For instance, if I am selling you a burger with fries for $5 and a chicken sandwich with fries for $5, I can add a decoy to make one sell better than the other. If I have a bunch of burgers about to go bad, I can give the option for a burger only for $4.50, making the burger with fries seem most desirable. I suspect this might be part of why some people are spiritual but not religious. They are essentially choosing between to choose between atheism, religion without rules, and religion with rules, and for many people, organized religion serves as the decoy to nudge people towards spiritualism rather than atheism. I should note that this is just a hypothesis of mine or a potential application of this effect.

Same or nearly the same as

Related to anchoring

Drop-in-the-Bucket Effect - The tendency to do nothing when our resources cannot make a significant impact on fixing a problem. I sometimes fail to use this when I talk about adoption. I cite the vast numbers of kids who need help, which is a problem no single person can fix, and so people aren't motivated to get involved. If I focused more on individual children who need help, people would be more likely to be moved and do something to help that child. In apologetics, this is important to remember when you talk about moral issues. People will be much more concerned if there is an identifiable victim.


Same or nearly the same as identifiable victim effect

Related to vividness, vagueness

Dunning-Krugger Effect - My favorite bias because I think it explains so much of the world. This is the tendency for people with minimal knowledge or experience in an area to have extremely high confidence in their ability in that area. As they gain genuine expertise, their confidence dips down before starting to climb again. This is apologetics. Almost everyone thinks they are an expert on religion and science so when you try to have an apologetics conversation, they are unwilling to listen or consider what is said because they view themselves as the expert. The original paper for this is called "Unskilled and Unaware."

Same or nearly the same as

Related to humility (opposite), straw-man (fallacy),

Ego Depletion - See the comment above for decision fatigue. They're the same. The only possible difference is that ego depletion is stated in terms of will power and compares it to a muscle that can be fatigued in the short-term but can be trained to grow stronger over time. The issue with this effect is that it doesn't always show up when expected, which made people say it's not a real effect. The research shows that essentially it can easily be overcome, so if that's the case, is it a real thing. The solution seems to be that it affects whether we decide to put forth cognitive effort for a decision. If we do put in the effort, there's no effect, but if we decide not to put in effort, we become very prone to any number of other biases listed here.

Same or nearly the same as decision fatigue

Related to

Endowment Effect - The tendency to overvalue something we own simply because it's ours. Our stuff has memories and emotions attached to it which other people don't see or value. The basic idea seems to apply to worldviews, religious practices, personal sins, and social groups too. These things are ours and are part of us and we don't want to give them up easily.

Same or nearly the same as mere ownership effect.

Related to commitment bias

False Consensus Effect - The tendency to think something is more normal than it really is. The classic example is premarital sex in high school. People, especially high school students, think "everyone is doing it," but the research shows that more than half of high school students are still virgins when they graduate. The most prevalent example for apologetics is the tendency people have to think scientists or intellectuals are more atheistic than they really are.

Same or nearly the same as

Related to the availability heuristic, appeal to the majority (fallacy)

Focusing Effect - The tendency for people to focus on a small detail or one aspect of something instead of the overall picture. In common words, it's losing the forest for the trees. This happens in apologetics when people get hung up on details that are often irrelevant or they are unwilling to move beyond a certain issue. For instance, a skeptic may focus so heavily on evil that they are unwilling to recognize the broader point that there is no such thing as evil without a moral lawgiver or that there are other arguments that show God exists.

Same or nearly the same as the availability heuristic, cherry-picking (fallacy)

Related to affect heuristic, confirmation bias, red herring (fallacy)

Forer Effect - The tendency for people to accept very broad or generalized statements about their personality as being uniquely true of them as opposed to recognizing they are largely true of most people. This basically explains the current trendiness of the enneagram, even though it is no scientifically valid. This may play a role in apologetics because people might be susceptible to view themselves in a way that could be beneficial or harmful for apologetics conversations. Trying to prime people to view themselves as rational, careful thinkers, respectful people, and so on, can help set up conversations so they are more effective.

Same or nearly the same as the Barnum effect

Related to the availability heuristic, confirmation bias, self-serving bias

Framing Effect - The way something is presented, or framed, can affect our conclusions about it. For instance, 99% effective sounds better than saying only fails 1% of the time. In one of my presentations, I show a clip from Brain Games where a cop asks witnesses how fast a car was going when it bumped/smashed into the other vehicle. By changing just one word, witnesses report drastically different speeds. In apologetics, our words matter. When we frame another worldview as ridiculous, those who agree with us and some in the middle will likely find it very convincing; however, unbelievers will feel as though we're not honestly representing their view and disregard what we say. Another example is how we present Christianity. Do we present it in a positive light so people want to follow it or are we simply known for all the things we're against? People are more prone to accept something, or at least listen when it is presented in a mostly positive way (not to say you can't or shouldn't mention the struggles of being a Christian).

Same or nearly the same as

Related to affect heuristic, appeal to emotions (fallacy), arbitrary coherence, fundamental attribution error (FAE)

Functional Fixedness - This is the tendency for people to view something only for it's intended purposes, preventing us from seeing alternative uses. The ability to break this pattern is what made Macgyver popular. In other words, this bias is thinking inside the box, so the antidote (as if it's just that easy) is to think outside the box. In apologetics, I find people sometimes have a fixed view of what Christianity is or what their identity is ("I'm a doctor and doctors aren't religious") which prevents them from seeing Jesus. If you notice this might be an issue, it's easy to overcome as long as you don't point it out in a condescending way.

Same or nearly the same as

Related to the availability heuristic, creativity, confirmation bias

Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE) - This is when we make an error in attributing something to someone or something. Usually, it's used to refer to blaming people (personal attribution) for things that were not within their control, or not completely within their control, and then we often associate the act with their character. If you cut someone off in traffic, even if it was an emergency or the unknowingly swerved into your lane, they will likely blame you for it and if you have a Jesus sticker on your car, they'll pass that judgment onto Him. Similarly, if you make a mistake about a fact (or they think you make a mistake), they will attribute that to your character and probably your intelligence. This is why it's extremely important to be careful with our words, fact check everything, and speak to others with grace.

Same or nearly the same as correspondence bias

Related to false cause fallacy (aka causal fallacy), confirmation bias, hasty generalization (fallacy), self-serving bias

Group Polarization - The tendency for the views of two groups to move further apart after discussing the topic. The obvious example is politics. Let's say a group of democrats and republicans have slightly different views on a topic when they start a conversation about it. After the conversation, they will likely move further apart. This happens for a variety of reasons, some rational and some not. Talking about the issue may help them think about it more, helping them realize their previous view was inconsistent or poorly thought out. However, it may also be due to knee-jerk reactions against the other group, an unwillingness to compromise and seem weak, following a charismatic leader, or many other reasons. In apologetics, this can happen in group discussions between Christians and other groups or during debates. To overcome this, it's important to be respectful of others and build relationships so they don't view you as an enemy who needs to be defeated. It's very hard for someone to agree with a person they view as an enemy, even when it's common sense. We have an automatic reaction to disagree with enemies or people we don't like.

Same or nearly the same as the backfire effect

Related to affect heuristic, commitment bias, conformity, groupthink, ingroup/outgroup bias, liking, obedience to authority

Groupthink - When groups have a strong desire to conform or be unified, they have a tendency to accept ideas too quickly and without critical though, leading to bad decisions. This can also happen when the group leader or the environment punishes dissent. This is different than ingroup bias or group polarization in the sense that it stems from a desire within the group to get along and an unwillingness to risk the consequences of dissent (notice how I didn't name specific errors I think many Christians make theologically 😉). This is hard to get around in social media because if someone does speak out against their side, they are criticized by both sides. If they see someone else do it, they often don't want to stick their neck out in support so they might passively like something or just refuse to comment about it.

Same or nearly the same as conformity

Related to commitment bias, false-consensus effect, hasty generalization (fallacy), ingroup/outgroup bias

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Halo Effect - This is the tendency for us to globalize a positive attribute of a person from one domain to another. For instance, if someone is physically attractive (or any other noticeable positive attribute), we're more likely to rate them as more intelligent, more competent, more trustworthy, and so on. While this effect solely focuses on positive attributes, the same applies to negatives so that if a negative attribute stands out to someone, they are more likely to apply that to us in other domains too. This is why it's extremely important in apologetics and evangelism to make good first impressions with people, to speak respectfully, dress and look respectable (not to be confused with being vain), be kind, and so on. People are much more likely to listen to apologetic arguments or the gospel if something about us (or many things) stands out as being very positive.

Same or nearly the same as

Related to affect bias, availability heuristic, Dunning-Kruger effect, first impressions, hasty generalization (fallacy), liking, representativeness heuristic

Hawthorne Effect - This is when people change their behavior when they're aware of being watched or think they're being watched. It's obvious that this happens, at least to some degree, but people sometimes underestimate how big the effect is and how easy it is to invoke it. Some studies have found that simply putting a picture of a face in certain places can get people to act better, although the effectiveness of this small of an intervention is debated. This is seen in public conversations such as on social media or other public venues because people are more likely to stick with their group's views on a topic rather than seriously consider other views for fear of being condemned by their group.

Same or nearly the same as

Related to group polarization, ingroup/outgroup bias, self-serving bias

Hedonic Adaptation/Treadmill - The tendency for people to adapt to things that are enjoyable so that it becomes their new expected standard. For instance, if you won the lottery, you would be ecstatic but you would slowly return to your previous levels of happiness, and worse, expect your quality of life to always remain the same so that you would be disappointed getting less than you had previously. If you buy a nice car, you will get used to the comforts and advantages of it so that when it comes time for a new car, you will expect the same or better, even if you don't really need all the luxuries. The application is more theological than apologetics. When we become accustomed to the comforts of American life, we tend to be calloused toward people around the world who aren't so well-off and we become unwilling to make sacrifices in our life for them. This affects how people view us when we do apologetics, but also the amount of time we spend studying or doing apologetics (or Bible study, prayer, etc.). When we become accustomed to Netflix xx hours per week, it's hard for us to give that up so that we can read, do evangelism, serve the poor, etc. We then rationalize that we somehow deserve such rest because we work so hard at other times (we should indeed rest, but we don't need nearly as much as the American lifestyle affords us).

Same or nearly the same as

Related to anchoring, halo effect, identifiable victim bias.

Herding - The tendency to follow the crowd as if we are a herd. This is a very useful heuristic, especially in unfamiliar places (e.g. traveling to a new country), but it can often lead to false conclusions. Many people have false views about Christianity because of this. They get their theology from popular media sources, leading them to think Christianity is intellectually bankrupt and faith is blind, and so they just go along with the crowd. This especially relates to sexuality and gender.

Same or nearly the same as the appeal the majority, bandwagon fallacy, false-consensus effect

Related to ingroup/outgroup bias, self-herding

Hindsight Bias - The tendency to look at events from the past as having been obviously predictable.  In other words, we look at past things with blinders on due to changes in culture or increased knowledge about something. We look at slavery as wrong today, and rightfully so, but because it's so culturally ingrained in us, skeptics sometimes have a hard time understanding slavery that is discussed in the Bible.

Same or nearly the same as

Related to affect bias, availability heuristic

Hot-Hand Fallacy - This is often discussed in terms of basketball, which is how it was discovered. Researchers found that when a person is perceived to be on a hot streak and observers think that person is more likely to make the next shot; however, the data shows this is not the case. The relevance to this in apologetics is that our immediate intuitions are not always correct. When looking at rates of abortion, effects of gun control, crime and religiosity, and so on, we can't just cite a statistic and give a simple explanation (this goes for people on all sides). Sometimes the obvious conclusion is correct, but we need to look around for other data and the best explanation for something.

Same or nearly the same as apophenia, regression to the mean.

Related to blindspot bias



Identifiable Victim Effect - The tendency to be more compassionate toward a single person in need rather than a large group of people. Even though it seems like we should be more heart-broken over a million starving people than just one, the research shows we are more likely to act and give more for a single person than for a group. This is why many charities will feature a single person in need rather than a whole group.

Same or nearly as

Related to drop-in-the-bucket effect, vividness, vagueness


Ikea Effect - When we place more value or importance on something that we build. In apologetics, if you tell someone the evidence for Christianity and give them the answer, they are likely to feel like your answer is not as good as theirs because they did not come up with it, and therefore, they will resist you. A better approach might be to tell people of certain facts or create hypotheticals based on the facts and then ask them to come to a conclusion based on those facts.

Same or nearly the same as the endowment effect, mere ownership effect, not-invented-here (NIH) effect

Related to the genetic fallacy

Illusion of Control - The tendency to overestimate our ability to control things. This affects Christians who might think they have more control over another person's beliefs than they actually do. This seems to part of the equation for people who want to push for government laws restricting behaviors that do not align with Christianity with the assumption that it will be more effective than it actually is. This is not saying there isn't a place for laws restricting certain behaviors, but it's the overestimate of the effectiveness of these laws that is the bias.

Same or nearly the same as

Related to the apophenia, compensatory control, gambler's fallacy, superstition,

Illusory Truth Effect - The tendency to believe false information is true after hearing it over and over again. Essentially, it's not the correctness that is remembered, but the content, so when people recall it, they remember it as true, unless of course they explicitly recognized it as false and argued against it. The main takeaway for apologetics is that people are likely to reject apologetic arguments when they're new to them. This means we don't need to be pushy or overbearing with people. We can and should take the long view and give them a little something to chew on time and time again. The goal isn't to get them to believe false information, but to help remove an emotional barrier to something that seems new and strange.

Same or nearly the same as mere exposure effect

Related to the appeal to the majority, false-consensus effect

Imagination Inflation - We tend to slowly exaggerate past events more and more over time. This is why we joke about fisherman bragging about the giant fish they caught way back in the day. This is a legitimate objection for atheists to the resurrection that needs to be seriously dealt with by believers. However, the mechanisms of this effect are not nearly powerful to explain the resurrection. The inflation happens along a slowly progressing continuum and the resurrection requires large leaps of imagination.

Same or nearly the same as

Related to false memories

Inattentional Blindness or Selective Attention - Strictly speaking, this is more of a perceptual error when we are so fixated on one thing, we miss surrounding cues. If you've ever seen the gorilla basketball video, that's an example of this. However, the same general thing occurs when we are so sure we are correct about something that we just blatantly miss or don't remember things that oppose our view. This is likely why atheists so often use incorrect definitions of faith or repeat the same misunderstandings about the kalam (e.g. who created God) even after they've been corrected. The correction just doesn't register with them because they're so sure they're right. On the other hand, I see apologetics get so fixated on pedantic details of an objection to Christianity and lose the whole point of what the other person was saying.

Same or nearly the same as

Related to the availability heuristic, belief bias, confirmation bias

Identifiable Victim Effect - The tendency to give more resources to a single person in need rather than a large group of people in need. This is why charities typically show a single person in need in their ads rather than a whole group of people suffering. For apologetics, talking about the 120+ people killed by atheists in the 20th century is less powerful than focusing on a single victim in greater detail. Ideally, both points would be made for the greatest impact.

Same or nearly the same as

Related to closeness, drop-in-the-bucket effect, vividness

Individualism - This is more of a cultural or personality factor, but it definitely biases our decision making. For people in individualistic cultures or people high on an individualistic scale (similar to reactance), anything that appears to violate their personal freedom will be viewed negatively. Politically, this correlates with libertarian and conservative views, which is where I get the sense that many apologists align. This should cause some apologists to question whether they've really based some of their theological and political views on Jesus or if it's more based on their desire for individualism. I'm not saying their views are wrong; only that they should be carefully scrutinized. In apologetics, this is often the underlying reason people so strongly revolt against God's moral standard, because they don't want to be told what to do, even by an all-knowing, all-loving God.

Same and nearly the same as reactance

Related to reactance conformity collectivism

Ingroup/Outgroup Biases - These are two different biases, but they're often used to describe the same thing and used interchangeably. The reason is that they're just two sides of the same coin. We are biased in favor of our own group and against other groups. When someone from our own group does something good, we apply it generally to the group as the norm and claim it as an example of the individual's character or competence. When someone from the ingroup does something bad, we rationalize it or we blame it on the individual. The opposite happens with the outgroup. When a member of the outgroup does something good, we apply it only to the individual as an exception to the norm or we try to explain it away as being a product the situation or not all that good after all. When someone from the outgroup does something bad, we apply it to the whole group and view it as the norm. Apologetics is a quintessential example of ingroup/outgroup behaviors. People on all sides are guilty of jumping on the bandwagon of bad arguments and rationalizing. About the only thing you can do is to be aware of this bias so you can try to avoid falling into it yourself and work on building relationships with people in the outgroups so they don't view you as an adversary.

Same or nearly the same as self-serving bias (but applied to groups)

Related to the appeal to the bandwagon effect, fundamental attribution error, liking, the majority (fallacy)

Liking - When we like someone, we're much more likely to listen to them, be persuaded by them, give them the benefit of the doubt, and so on. If you want to be a more effective apologist, be kind and respectful of others and they will be much more likely to listen.

Same or nearly the same as

Related to affect bias, the halo effect, ingroup/outgroup biases

Loss Aversion - The tendency for potential losses to play a bigger role in our decisions than potential gains. This is likely why people are more willing to settle with what they have than risk losing it for something better. Worldviews are an excellent example. If a person has a worldview that seems to work, and they have a group of friends who share that worldview, they are not easily going to risk giving that up for Christianity. They will fight to show that their worldview is better and even if you can show Christianity is a better worldview, they may not be willing to accept it.

Same or nearly the same as negativity bias

Related to the affect heuristic, availability heuristic, belief bias, confirmation bias, endowment effect, mere ownership effect, sunk cost fallacy, and status quo bias

Mandela Effect - This is when someone misremembers something, such as Nelson Mandela dying (how the effect was named), and then a large number of people believe it. It's spread to broad cultural norms and details of pop-culture. There's actually several online tests you can take to demonstrate this effect and give you a better idea of what it is. Here's just one of them. This is perhaps one of the strongest arguments against Christianity, specifically the resurrection, but critics don't use it It's better than the swoon theory, hallucination theory, and all other attempts to explain away the resurrection, but it still falls short. This effect can't explain eye-witness accounts, the reports of Paul and the apostles performing miracles in the name of Jesus, and it doesn't take into account the memory ability of people in the first century.

Same or nearly the same as DRM procedure, false memories

Related to imagination inflation

Mere Exposure - This is the tendency to be more willing to accept things that we've been exposed to before. In other words, new things (like evidence for Christianity) are strange to us and seem unlikely to be true so we reject them. Don't expect people, even other Christians, to accept the arguments for Christianity the first time they hear them. They'll likely need several exposures to the idea of rational faith and evidence before they'll be open to accepting it.
Same or nearly the same as

Related to

Mere Ownership Effect - The tendency to overvalue items that we own. This is studied with physical objects by seeing how much people will buy and sell things for, but there's no reason the same effect doesn't apply to things like worldviews. This is likely one of the many reasons it's hard for people to change their beliefs, even on small topics.

Same or nearly the same as the endowment effect

Related to Ikea effect and not-invented-here (NIH) effect.

Misinformation Effect - This is when information after an event affects our memory of the event. The classic example of this effect is from a 1974 study that showed people a film of a car crash. Participants were asked how fast the car was going when it either collided, bumped, contacted, hit, or smashed into the other vehicle. This change of a single word affected their estimates of the car's speed and one week later, those in the smashed condition were more likely to say they saw broken class. This is a potential argument against the resurrection, however, this effect cannot explain something as big as a person rising from the dead or the fact that the NT authors witnessed several other miracles and did miracles themselves.

Same or nearly the same as

Related to DRM procedure, false memories, imagination inflation, Mandela effect

Myside Bias - The tendency to favor evidence and arguments that support what a person already believes. My favorite study on this asked participants to state whether deductive syllogisms were valid and they scored around 70%, but when asked to do the same for abortion syllogisms opposing their own view, they dropped to about 40%. When doing apologetics, you need to find ways to bring up and discuss topics in a safe and unemotional way so that people will be willing to think instead of rejecting it without much thought.

Same or nearly the same as confirmation bias

Related to belief bias, belief perseverance
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There are some recommended resources below for further information, otherwise, this is the temporary end of this list. I will post new biases every few days until the list is done, with a description of what's been added.




Recommended Resources
Good list of biases with much more in-depth descriptions
The Decision Lab

Books to help further understand how these factors affect our decisions.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely
The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt

Books to help overcome psychological barriers when doing apologetics and evangelism.
Influence: Science and Practice (also as Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion) and Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

And just for good measure, here's a satirical list of biases that describe some current cultural tendencies, some of which relate to the biases listed above. A few particularly good ones are Evopsychophobia, Implicit ESP delusions, Subjectiphilia, and Wokanniblism.
Orwelexicon for Bias

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