The Bias Blindspot
This bias was suggested to me via the MindHacks blog (in 2009).I have followed the psychologist Emily Pronin and I’m happy to say her work is fascinating.
Abstract: The Bias Blind Spot: Perceptions of Bias in Self Versus Others (via Pronin, Lin, & Ross)
Three studies suggest that individuals see the existence and operation of cognitive and motivational biases much more in others than in themselves. Study 1 provides evidence from three surveys that people rate themselves as less subject to various biases than the “average American,” classmates in a seminar, and fellow airport travelers. Data from the third survey further suggest that such claims arise from the interplay among availability biases and self-enhancement motives. Participants in one follow-up study who showed the better-than-average bias insisted that their self-assessments were accurate and objective even after reading a description of how they could have been affected by the relevant bias. Participants in a final study reported their peer’s self-serving attributions regarding test performance to be biased but their own similarly self-serving attributions to be free of bias. The relevance of these phenomena to naïve realism and to conflict, misunderstanding, and dispute resolution is discussed.
Fascinating Excerpts (via Pronin, Lin, & Ross)
This proposal of an asymmetry in perceptions of bias arises from recent accounts of “naive realism” (Griffin & Ross, 1991; Pronin, Puccio, & Ross, 2001; Ross & Ward, 1996; also see Ichheiser, 1970), which hold that people think, or simply assume without giving the matter any thought at all, that their own take on the world enjoys particular authenticity and will be shared by other openminded perceivers and seekers of truth. As a consequence, evidence that others do not share their views, affective reactions, priorities regarding social ills, and so forth prompts them to search for some explanation, and the explanation most often arrived at, we argue, is that the other parties’ views have been subject to some bias that keeps them from reacting as the situation demands. As a result of explaining such situations in terms of others’ biases, while failing to recognize the role of similar biases in shaping their own perceptions and reactions, individuals are likely to conclude that they are somehow less subject to biases than the people whom they observe and interact with in their everyday lives.
Excerpted Conclusion (via Pronin, Lin, & Ross)
The results of our three studies suggest that knowledge of particular biases in human judgment and inference,and the ability to recognize the impact of those biases on others, neither prevents one from succumbing nor makes one aware of having done so. Indeed, our research participants denied that their assessments of their personal qualities (Study 2) and their attributions for a particular success or failure (Study 3) had been biased even after having displayed the relevant biases and reading descriptions of them