top of page

Action Bias

We prefer doing something to doing nothing.

What is it?

Due to the Action Bias, we believe that actions are the only way to add value, even if there is no clear indication that they will have a positive effect. As a result, we choose action over inaction, though practising restraint might be a better and wise option than doing something at that point.

What impact does it have on our decisions and actions?

Action Bias makes us think that people who do a lot create the most value. It forces us to make quick decisions as we prefer quantity over quality. We overvalue hustle and underestimate the process of thinking, observing, exploring, and sometimes simply waiting. We use the Action Bias to measure change and reinforce the belief that patience and preparation are undesirable qualities to possess.

How can we teach our students to avoid it?

Our hunter-gatherer culture hardwired the automatic impulse to act to survive into our brains. Besides, we fixed the game of wealth generation to favour action bias. Despite this, research suggests we can no longer equate taking action with productivity. We must promote slow learning in our classrooms to help our students learn to avoid Action Bias. Research suggests that effective teachers allow more time for individuals to think and reflect than traditional teachers in their classrooms. We must learn to strike a healthy balance between collaborative learning and individual quiet time as we teach, to help our students overcome Action Bias.


This post is from a #TeachwithInnerkern series.

Main Post: How can we help our students learn to avoid Cognitive Biases?

Next Post: Affect Heuristic

If you are open minded about seeking our help to implement how-not-to-think classrooms in your school, please feel free to reach out to our programme team here.