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How Actor-Observer Biases Affect the Way We Interact With People

The actor-observer bias

The actor-observer bias

When a person experiences something negative, they will blame the circumstances. When something negative happens to another person, they will blame the individual for their behaviors.

For example, when a doctor tells someone their cholesterol levels are too high, the patient might blame environmental influences. When they hear of someone else with high cholesterol levels, they think it is because of a poor diet or lack of exercise.

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The Just-World Hypothesis
The Just-World Hypothesis

Is a cognitive bias that causes us to assume that people’s actions always lead to fair consequences, meaning that those who do good are eventually rewarded, while those who do evil are eventually p...

Why poeple believe is a just world
  • Belief in a just world can serve as motivation for making long-term efforts.
  • Belief in a just world can serve as a coping mechanism for everyday struggles.
  • Belief in a just world can help people cope with existential issuesby providing them with a sense of purpose.
  • Belief in a just world can help people feel in control, because they believe their future will be determined by their actions.
Factors influencing the Just World bias

  • Various background factors, such as religion and ethnicity, can affect the likelihood that people will display just-world beliefs, and the degree to which they will display them.
  • Various situational factors can also affect the degree to which people believe in a just world. For example, being in a good mood reduces people’s tendency to blame innocent victims, while being in a bad mood increases this tendency.

The egocentric bias
The egocentric bias

It is a cognitive bias that causes people to rely too much on their own point of view when they examine or remember events in their life.

This means that people tend to either underest...

Examples of the egocentric bias
  • When you are giving a public talk, you assume that your nervousness is more apparent to others than is actually the case.
  • You overestimate the amount of work that you contributed to a group project.
  • You might believe that your colleagues all share your political beliefs and social values.
  • You might remember yourself as having been the key player in a past event, despite the fact that you only played a relatively minor role in it.
What causes the egocentric bias

It occurs primarily due to the fact that we tend to naturally examine and remember events primarily through our personal point of view.

Even when we realize that we should adjust our perspective to see things through other people’s eyes, we tend to anchor this new perspective to our own, and we often fail to adjust from our original viewpoint enough to properly assess how other people feel.

The Pratfall Effect

Your likability will increase if you aren’t perfect.

Those who never make mistakes are perceived as less likable than those who commit the occasional faux pas. Messing up draws peop...

The Pygmalion Effect

Greater expectations drive greater performance.

The crux of this psychological phenomenon is the concept of a self-fulfilling prophecy: If you believe something is true of yourself, eventually it will be.

The Paradox of Choice

The more choices we have, the less likely we are to be content with our decision.

Even if our ultimate decision is clearly correct, when faced with many choices, we are less likely to be happy with what we choose. Because a wealth of choices makes finding contentment that much harder.