McLelland’s 3 Needs Theory

People have a need for achievement, affiliation and power.

Fear of Missing Out

People make irrational decisions when they are afraid they might miss out on a big opportunity.

Equity Theory

People compare inputs and outputs to others to determine fairness.

Herzberg’s 2-Factor Theory

Hygiene and motivators affect performance.

Curse of Knowledge

Inability to recognize that others do not have the same level of knowledge.

Pattern of Withdrawal

Behaviors that indicate a person is withdrawing from a project or effort.

Illusion of Control

Overestimation of one’s ability to control activities or events.

Gambler’s Fallacy

The belief that one win will lead to another, or past failures necessitate more failure.

Survivorship/Absence Blindness

The tendency to forget or ignore failures. This is the antithesis of learning from your mistakes.

Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development

How human beings develop morality with maturity.

Perception is Reality

For most people, truth is irrelevant. Perception is their reality, no matter how distorted.

Peak-End Rule

People remember and judge experiences based largely on the peak and the last impression.


Tendency for group members to agree with each other and withhold contrarian views.

Cumulative Advantage

How advantages can stack over time to yield increasing advantages.

Incentives and Unintended Consequences

Incentives can lead to undesirable behavior, and punishments can provide justification for bad behavior.

Hindsight Bias

Hindsight is 20/20

Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development

How group dynamics evolve over time.


Low skilled people tend to overestimate their abilities and underestimate challenges.

Prior Hypothesis Bias

Tendency to favor a prior hypothesis despite contradictory evidence.

Confirmation Bias

Tendency to cherry-pick or distort information to fit a pre-existing viewpoint.

Self-Justification (Rationalizing Behavior)

Common methods of justifying actions/beliefs in light of contradictory information.

Cognitive Dissonance

Discomfort from contradictory information.

Availability Bias

People prefer to use information that is easy to obtain.

System 1 and 2 Thinking

Humans process information quickly using heuristics, but take time to analyze more complex decisions.

Sunk Costs

Costs including time and money, which have already been expended.

Opportunity Cost

The cost of what you are giving up when you make a decision involving scarce resources like time and money.

Expectancy Theory

People expect effort to lead to performance to lead to rewards.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Existing beliefs create a feedback loop that reinforces the belief or influences its outcome.

Rational Basis

A good test for plot design to keep elements from getting too ridiculous.

Loss Aversion

People are more sensitive to losses than gains of similar magnitude.