Bias blind spot: what is this psychological phenomenon and how does it affect us?
Let's see what the bias blind spot, which distorts the way we perceive ourselves, is all about.
Everyone is manipulated by their families, the media, politicians, fads and their own way of thinking. No one thinks freely because their thinking has been influenced by all kinds of outside opinions and they cannot let go of their cognitive biases.
Fortunately, this does not happen to me. I am much more objective, rational and unbiased than most, I have managed to put aside my biases and I know how to distinguish between my opinion and that of the high elites who control us. My thinking is truly my own, I see reality as it is and I can tell others that they are wrong?
Surely more than one, if not almost everyone, can identify with this definition. Well, we regret to inform you that you are as biased as everyone else. The blind spot of bias is a cognitive phenomenon in which people believe themselves to be more unbiased than most, even though they are as biased as anyone else.even though they are as biased as anyone else.
What is the bias blind spot?
The bias blind spot, also called bias blind spot, is a cognitive phenomenon that happens when people are unable to realize that we ourselves are victims of all kinds of cognitive biases and prejudices, and yet we tend to think that we are the people who are the most biased, even though we are as biased as anyone else, we tend to think that we are less biased people than the average person.. This phenomenon was originally proposed by psychologist Emily Pronin, a researcher at Princeton University.
We tend to think that we, simply because we are us, see things in a significantly more objective and rational way than others. This is why we consider that our way of seeing "reality" is the most accurate, clear and correct compared to how others do it, and because we attribute biased thinking to them, we tend to reject their way of seeing reality. We believe that we are the best or we are better at seeing things as they are compared to others..
This type of bias allows us to understand why some people believe in conspiracy theories, although it is not the only cognitive phenomenon behind these particular cases. Combined with conspiracy thinking, these people have no qualms about claiming that they are the ones who can clearly see the "strings" that pull society and that their way of seeing things is independent of the media, politicians, their loved ones or any other source of information.
It is important to note that the blind spot of bias occurs in all people, not just believers in conspiracy theories. We believe ourselves to be above average when it comes to the positive qualities we value most, the most common being objectivity, rationality, fairness and sincerity.
That is probably why we consider ourselves to be more objective, fair and sincere, We probably consider ourselves to be more objective, rational, fair and sincere than most people.. Thus, we convince ourselves of our moral rectitude and the veracity of our ideas, believing that our thinking is free and independent of our subjectivity.
Scientific research on this phenomenon
Studies have been conducted to prove the existence of the bias blind spot. One study, conducted by Emily Pronin, Daniel Y. Lin and Lee Ross at Stanford University, revealed that the majority of people considered themselves better than average, specifically 86%.
About 63% of the participants felt that their self-portrait of themselves was objective and reliable, and that their assessment of themselves was not at all influenced by any bias. Only 13% of them claimed to be very modest in describing themselves.. The researchers found that only 24% of the people in the study accepted the idea of having been influenced by some kind of bias or prejudice when psychologists pointed out and talked about the existence of the bias blind spot.
Why do we think we are more rational and objective than others?
The fact that we think we perceive reality without distortions is due to the fact that we do not analyze our cognitive and motivational processes. That is to say, we do not make a conscious examination of the way and manner in which we perceive and analyze the information that comes to us from the external world. from the external world. In order to become aware of our biases and limitations, we need to make a great effort and a deep exercise of introspection, inferring that, just as it happens to others, we are not immune to cognitive biases.
Most of us like to see ourselves as great people whose merits are attributable to our efforts and our misfortunes the fault of others, unless we have depressive symptomatology in which this pattern is reversed. We feed our self-esteem and self-concept by seeing ourselves as more than what we are, since the opposite would be quite the opposite.We feed our self-esteem and self-concept by seeing ourselves as more than we are, since the opposite would be quite maladaptive. The same happens with our way of thinking, which we like to consider as better than that of others and the result of a superior intellectual effort.
However, as soon as a discrepancy arises between what we think and perceive and what others think and perceive, far from thinking about whether we are really right, we infer that others are wrong, less objective and not very rational.
In this way, our mind avoids entering into cognitive dissonance, since accepting another point of view means questioning our own beliefs and value system, something that generates discomfort and involves great effort to change.
At the same time, just as we think that others are not very rational, we self-deceive ourselves into thinking that others are not very rational, we delude ourselves into thinking that we are even more unbiased than others.. This same self-deception is what allows us to evaluate ourselves in a more favorable light, which increases and protects our self-esteem. We prefer to think that we are not wrong rather than being aware that, like others, we have our limitations and only perceive a part of reality.
The blind spot of bias at pathological levels.
As we were saying, the vast majority of people manifest the blind spot of bias. We like to think of ourselves as better than most mortals, at least a little bit. However, not systematically recognizing that we may be victims of bias and believing that everyone else is wrong except us is an almost delusional type of behavior, distancing us from the true reality that we naively believe we are perceiving.It is an almost delusional type of behavior, distancing us from the true reality that we naively believe we are perceiving.
Feeding our own vision of the world by ignoring or belittling that of others makes us end up excluding ourselves from the rest of society, since we will not accept under any circumstances any opinion contrary to or different from our own. We create an ever-shrinking comfort zone in which we only allow the one person who thinks the same way we do to enter.
How to recognize the blind spot of bias?
As human beings will always be victims of cognitive and motivational biases.. It is an inevitable part of the way we see and understand the world and is basically what makes people have a diversity of opinions. Even if two people have received exactly the same information, their way of interpreting it and the opinions it generates will be different. We must understand that all people, with their basic beliefs and ideas, constitute many different worlds and that no one is going to think in the same way, something that does not have to be more good or more accurate.
To accuse absolutely everyone of impartiality, denying that we ourselves cannot help being subjective, leads to misunderstandings, generates mistrust and causes problems.It generates mistrust and causes interpersonal problems. Thinking that the only valid opinion is one's own makes it even more difficult to find points in common to reach an agreement, something fundamental to be able to live in a society.
Naturally, people want to be able to see the world as it is, in a totally impartial and objective way, but this vision, promoted by rationalist perspectives, is really a utopian illusion. We are subjective beings who, as a result of our experiences, personality and other factors, our way of perceiving reality varies significantly from individual to individual.
If we want to know what the world is really like, instead of proclaiming our own way of seeing reality as the only true vision, we must get in touch with what other people see and think. The more subjectivities we encounter, the broader our vision of the world will be and, therefore, the closer we will be to that unattainable idea of true reality.
- Room, C. (2016) Everyone Thinks They're More Moral Than Everyone Else. In: The Cut.
- Scopelliti, I. et. al. (2015) Bias blind spot: Structure, measurement, and consequences. Management Science; 61(10): 2468-2486.
- Pronin, E. et. Al. (2002) The Bias Blind Spot: Perceptions of Bias in Self Versus Others. PSPB; 28(3): 369-381.
- West, R. F., Meserve, R. J., & Stanovich, K. E. (2012). Cognitive sophistication does not attenuate the bias blind spot. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 103(3), 506–519. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0028857
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)