Bias blind spot

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The bias blind spot is the cognitive bias of failing to compensate for one's own cognitive biases. The term was created by Emily Pronin, a social psychologist from Princeton University's Department of Psychology, with colleagues Daniel Lin and Lee Ross.[1] The bias blind spot is named after the visual blind spot.

Pronin and her co-authors explained to subjects the better-than-average effect, the halo effect, self-serving bias and many other cognitive biases. According to the better-than-average bias, specifically, people are likely to see themselves as inaccurately "better than average" for possible positive traits and "less than average" for negative traits. When subsequently asked how biased they themselves were, subjects rated themselves as being much less vulnerable to those biases than the average person.

Role of introspection[edit]

Emily Pronin and Matthew Kugler have argued that this phenomenon is due to the introspection illusion.[2] In their experiments, subjects had to make judgments about themselves and about other subjects.[3] They displayed standard biases, for example rating themselves above the others on desirable qualities (demonstrating illusory superiority). The experimenters explained cognitive bias, and asked the subjects how it might have affected their judgment. The subjects rated themselves as less susceptible to bias than others in the experiment (confirming the bias blind spot). When they had to explain their judgments, they used different strategies for assessing their own and others' bias.

Pronin and Kugler's interpretation is that, when people decide whether someone else is biased, they use overt behaviour. On the other hand, when assessing whether or not they themselves are biased, people look inward, searching their own thoughts and feelings for biased motives.[2] Since biases operate unconsciously, these introspections are not informative, but people wrongly treat them as reliable indication that they themselves, unlike other people, are immune to bias.[3]

Pronin and Kugler tried to give their subjects access to others' introspections. To do this, they made audio recordings of subjects who had been told to say whatever came into their heads as they decided whether their answer to a previous question might have been affected by bias.[3] Although subjects persuaded themselves they were unlikely to be biased, their introspective reports did not sway the assessments of observers.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Emily Pronin, Center for Behavioral Decision Research
  2. ^ a b Gilovich, Thomas; Nicholas Epley; Karlene Hanko (2005). "Shallow Thoughts About the Self: The Automatic Components of Self-Assessment". In Mark D. Alicke, David A. Dunning, Joachim I. Krueger. The Self in Social Judgment. Studies in Self and Identity. New York: Psychology Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-84169-418-4. 
  3. ^ a b c Pronin, Emily; Matthew B. Kugler (July 2007). "Valuing thoughts, ignoring behavior: The introspection illusion as a source of the bias blind spot". Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (Elsevier) 43 (4): 565–578. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2006.05.011. ISSN 0022-1031.