Oolong has recently written an excellent piece on humans' desire to make sacrifices without clear reference to evidence that these sacrifices do any good. After much discussion, it was determined that there was no existing label that framed this tendency as a cognitive bias1.
And so a term was coined. The Builds-Character Heuristic refers to the idea that if you work hard, make sacrifices, and show an effort, you are a better person. This is sometimes a stated belief, and sometimes simply an alief, but it is something that most of us tend to feel is correct.
If it tastes bad, it must be good for you. If you exercise more, you will be healthier. The best employee is the one that stays the latest. Walking to school in the snow builds character.
Chances are that you are familiar with all of…