Using Bias in a Debate


Put human self-interest in the center of your argumentation, rather than focusing on the environment or the climate.

Authority bias

Use quotes that refer to authorities accepted by all groups involved.

Bandwagon effect

Tell the audience how many people share your point of view.

Courtesy bias

Avoid offending anyone und point out how much you keep to the rules.

Cross-race effect

Use authorities and examples that represent the ethnic or cultural background predominant in the audience.

Current moment bias

Promise benefits that are available now or in the next few days, contrary to arguments that favor a positive outcome in the distant future.

Decoy effect

Present A (the other side’s solution), then B (your own solution) and then C (a neutral solution close to yours).

Denomination effect

When your side wants to spend a large sum of money on a project, split up the sum in smaller units.

Distinction bias


Contrast your ideas directly with the other side’s ideas.

False consensus effect

Pretend you totally agree with the audience.

Generation effect

Ask the audience to imagine a certain place or involve them in problem-solving.

Identifiable victim effect

Personalize your examples. The potential victim of what the other teams wants must be an individual, not a group.

Illusion of control

Create the illusion that your side (or humanity in general) is in full control of what will happen.

Illusion of transparency

Create the illusion your intentions were transparent and plain to see.

Illusion of truth effect

Make sure you use commonplace examples. Introduce them with phrases like “As we can all remember...” or “It may sound familiar that ...”

Illusory truth effect

Keep the level of complexity low and repeat the main points over and over.

Information bias

Make the other team look like they don’t have sufficient information, persuade the audience to join your side instead of risking too much.

In-group bias

Use examples that are strongly associated with the in-group represented in the audience.

Irrational escalation

Make people believe changing one’s attitude will result in more difficulty or losses.

Just-world hypothesis

Avoid arguments that make the world look unfair.

Law of the instrument

When proposing solutions, refer to well-known instruments to solve this or other problems.

Loss aversion

Make the audience believe the other team wants to take something away from them.

Naïve cynicism

Make the other team look selfish.

Naïve realism

Use simple facts that reflect the world as its perceived, not necessarily as it really is.

Negativity bias

When referring to the other team, evoke memories of bad things that have happened in the past.

Next-in-line effect

Don’t prepare for your own speech while you’re still listening.

Normalcy bias

Play down the effects of things that have never happened before.

Optimism bias

Avoid lamenting and nagging, stay optimistic.

Ostrich effect

Avoid images that scare the audience.

Peak-end rule

Make sure your speech has a great climax and a superb ending.

Picture superiority effect

Use visual aids!

Primacy effect

Start with the strongest argument, put the weakest argument in the middle and find a strong argument for your closing statement.

Pro-innovation bias

Make the audience believe your side represents innovation.

Projection bias

When talking about the future, emphasize the identity of the audience with their future selves.


Avoid pushing the audience to a certain decision.

Rhyme as reason effect

Use catchy statements that contain a simple rhyme.

Rosy retrospection

Focus on positive aspects of the past – the good old times.

Selective perception

Talk about people’s expectations – then show how your findings meet these expectations.

Self-relevance effect

Address individuals in the audience directly instead of talking about a specific issue.

Self-serving bias

Flatter the audience by talking about their successes, play down their failures.

Social comparison bias

Don’t make yourself look too competent or in any way dangerous for the listener’s self-esteem. 

Social desirability bias

Make the audience believe they’re better than the rest.

Spacing effect

Instead of repeating things after short periods of time, allow for slightly more time.

System justification

Whenever possible, defend the status quo.

Third-person effect

Show how the mass-media influence all the other people except for the ones you want to appeal to.

Verbatim Effect

Repeat important things more than once.