A cognitive bias (e.g. Ariely, 2008) is a systematic (non-random) error in thinking, in the sense that a judgment deviates from what would be considered desirable from the perspective of accepted norms or correct in terms of formal logic. The application of heuristics is often associated with cognitive biases, some of which, such as those arising from availability or representativeness, are ‘cold’ in the sense that they do not reflect a person’s motivation and are instead the result of errors in information processing. Other cognitive biases, especially those that have a self-serving function (e.g. optimism bias), are more motivated. Finally, some biases, such as confirmation bias, can be motivated or unmotivated (Nickerson, 1998).
Ariely, D. (2008). Predictably Irrational. New York: Harper Collins.
Nickerson, R. S. (1998). Confirmation bias: A ubiquitous phenomenon in many guises. Review of General Psychology, 2, 175-220.