Sketchplanations

Explaining the world one sketch at a time

Previous
Random
Next
Proportionality bias - Sketchplanations

Proportionality bias

We have a natural tendency to think that big events must have big causes. For instance, in one study, participants who were told that a plane had crashed and everyone died were more likely to believe it was a terrorist incident than one in which they were told a plane had crashed but people survived. It might also help explain why, when we want to roll that big lucky number to win, we might find ourselves giving the dice an extra shake before rolling, as if the extra effort might lead to the better outcome.

Normally, proportionality bias makes a lot of sense, but sometimes it leads us astray. Working with software, for example, might help train this out of us as a mere misplaced comma can bring entire systems grinding to a halt. And small changes to ecosystems, or, say, a small temperature rise on a planet, can lead to massive consequences.

Proportionality bias is considered one of the drivers of conspiracy theories. For example, we might be inclined to think that someone like Lady Diana couldn’t possibly have just died in a driving accident — there must be more to it. Or JFK couldn’t have been killed just by a lone gunman — there must be a larger plot at work.

You're welcome to use and share this image and text for non-commercial purposes with attribution. Go wild!
See licence

Keep exploring

Fruit vs vegetable - Sketchplanations
The singularity effect - Sketchplanations
The 4 horsemen of relationship apocalypse - Sketchplanations
Roll limes before squeezing and you’ll get more juice - Sketchplanations
The one-hoss shay - Sketchplanations
Who cut down the last tree? - Sketchplanations
Buy Me A Coffee