Cognitive Biases and the Tomato GenAI Conspiracy: Trust or Bust?

[Original ChatGPT chat in English] [Previous chat about Dunning-Kruger bias]

😎 Is there a cognitive bias that explains how some people tend to mistrust others who share something for free? 

🤖 Yes, there is a cognitive bias known as the “in-group favoritism” or “ingroup-outgroup bias” that can contribute to people mistrusting others who share something for free. This bias refers to the tendency for individuals to show more trust and preference towards members of their own group (ingroup) compared to those outside of their group (outgroup). When someone receives something for free from an outgroup member, they may perceive it as a potential hidden agenda or ulterior motive, leading to mistrust. This bias can influence how we interpret and react to actions from people outside our immediate social circles.

😎 Even if the two people are somehow members of the same group… try to find other well-known and documented cognitive biases.

Say my neighbor and I get along when it comes to the usual things that neighbors do and make them part of a group or a community (whatever that is). But, one day, my neighbor decides to grow tomatoes in their garden. The neighbor plants the seeds, waters them when needed, provides them with sunlight and fertilizer, digs in stakes to support and tie the plants, and harvests the tomatoes when they are ripe and red. It seems to be a lengthy and laborious process, but my neighbor says it’s for fun and claims to enjoy the process, the harvesting, and the networking with other people who also grow their own tomatoes and share their own expertise and skill. He claims to have no interest in buying a license or paying the required fees and taxes for selling the tomatoes in a market, so he’s giving away the surplus to friends, family, or neighbors.

I don’t know how to grow tomatoes and, besides, I don’t have time for that… I’m very busy with other stuff I either prefer doing or believe yields a higher return than growing tomatoes in my garden, such as browsing TikTok videos of other people’s pets and LinkedIn posts about other people’s job changes and pay raises (well… whatever it is that people announce 🤭), or following the instructions of my boss or clients at my day job. It doesn’t matter if it’s time or skill, but I don’t grow my own tomatoes. I like tomatoes, though… The offer from my neighbor to get some free tomatoes looks tempting, but I suspect there might be a hidden agenda or ulterior motive behind their altruism. 

Giving away all those tomatoes? For free? I would never do that! I’m too smart to do such a stupid thing… when I have a skill, I don’t give away the products of it, I keep the knowledge to myself until I can start to make money out of it. It always pays out to hoard knowledge. When the time is right, I put all my skills in the marketplace and rip off the masses of ignorant  and unskilled people who will happily give me their money in exchange for my precious skill. [Evil laughter] Ha, ha!

Am I affected by any cognitive bias you know about?

🤖 Based on the scenario you described, it appears that you might be affected by several cognitive biases:

  • Loss aversion: This bias involves the tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains. In your case, you may be hesitant to accept the free tomatoes because you fear that you might be missing out on an opportunity to gain something more valuable in the future.
  • Status quo bias: This bias refers to the preference for keeping things the way they are and avoiding change. Since you are accustomed to not growing tomatoes and have other activities that you believe yield a higher return, you might resist trying something new, even if it means getting free tomatoes.
  • Endowment effect: This bias leads people to place a higher value on items they already possess compared to the same items they don’t have. As you don’t grow tomatoes yourself, you might perceive the free tomatoes from your neighbor as less valuable than if you had grown them yourself.
  • Distrust of free things: As you mentioned earlier, you may have a tendency to mistrust others who share something for free, possibly due to the ingroup-outgroup bias or a similar bias that affects your perception of altruistic actions.
  • Sunk cost fallacy: This cognitive bias involves sticking with a decision based on past investments, even if it’s no longer the best choice. In your case, you might be reluctant to accept the free tomatoes because you’ve invested time and effort in your current activities, such as browsing TikTok videos or following work instructions.

Remember that cognitive biases are common and affect all of us to some extent. Being aware of them can help you make more rational decisions and avoid potential pitfalls in your thinking.

😎 [Repeat previous prompt] Am I affected by any cognitive bias you know about?

🤖 Based on the scenario you described, it appears that you might be affected by the following cognitive biases:

1. Confirmation bias: This bias involves seeking or interpreting information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. In your case, you might be suspicious of your neighbor’s altruism because it aligns with your belief that people usually have hidden agendas.

2. Anchoring bias: This bias occurs when people rely too heavily on the first piece of information encountered when making decisions. Your initial skepticism about your neighbor’s offer might have anchored your perception of their intentions, leading you to maintain a mistrustful stance.

3. Fundamental attribution error: This bias refers to the tendency to attribute other people’s behavior to their character or disposition rather than considering situational factors. By assuming that your neighbor’s offer must have a hidden agenda, you might be overlooking the possibility that they genuinely enjoy sharing their surplus tomatoes.

4. In-group favoritism: This bias can still play a role if you perceive your skills and expertise as more valuable than your neighbor’s gardening hobby, leading you to prioritize your own skills over accepting their free tomatoes.

It’s essential to be aware of these biases as they can influence our perceptions and decisions. Being open-minded and considering alternative explanations can help you better understand your neighbor’s intentions and make more rational choices.

😎 Thank you. I sent the same prompt twice, because I thought the model got stuck the first time. Now I’m rereading the whole chat and see you provided to very thorough and insightful responses, pointing out different cognitive biases in each of them. I will share the tomatoes this chat with my neighbors.

🤖 You’re welcome! I’m glad you found the responses helpful and insightful. Feel free to share this chat with your neighbors; it might spark interesting discussions about cognitive biases and how they can influence our perceptions and decisions. If you have any more questions or need further assistance in the future, don’t hesitate to reach out. Happy chatting!