Wednesday, March 9, 2011


When someone fails at something they usually place blame on anything but themselves and if they are successful, they attribute it to themselves before they attribute it to an outside factor.
We have a tendency to use selective perception when we judge others. Selective perception can give us an idea about a person however it does have its inaccuracies. We see what we want to see instead of what really is, when we use selective perception. When meeting a new person we may be drawn to them right away because there were a few things we noticed that we find appealing and maybe even similar to ourselves but just because we see those things does not mean the person is who we made them out to be. Someone looking for a roommate might accept the application of a person who seems to be "on the same page" but after they move in and some time is spent getting to know them, they might find out that their new roommate has a tendency to be messy and lack responsibility.
Everything that we encounter in life is perceived in one way or another. Perceptions even affect our ethical and moral decisions. Perception is a personal thing. What one person perceives may not be what another person perceives. This does and always will have an effect on how decisions, both personal and business, will be made.
(Perception and Decision Making by Christina Hernandez at
Each of us sees and interprets situations based on our own traditions, experiences, and salient moral languages. A teacher with one particular kind of history or moral tradition will see, and interpret what she sees, differently from someone with another kind of history. Teacher A may see a student and notice that this student is visibly shaken, upset, and in need of counsel. Indeed, this student has just received upsetting news. Teacher B may see that student and note nothing unusual. Teacher A is sensitive to emotional suffering in a way B is not; B does not perceive as fully or deeply as the first. Yet let us suppose that Teacher B confronts a situation of conflict among a group of students and, through conversation with students and bystanders, quickly detects blatant unfairness in the way some students are being treated. Teacher A might learn of this conflict, talk to the same participants but at another time period or in a different conversational context, and detect none of the unfairness involved. Teacher B may be more sensitive to issues of fairness than the first teacher; however, in addition, each teacher encountered the situation through a different context, a distinct social encounter that framed the events uniquely. This is not to suggest that there are no moral facts in such situations, but that that different facts and interpretations will be used to frame different telling of the situation depending on the persons and contexts involved in the telling. Each of us brings a particular moral tradition, history, and set of social habits that guide how we see and understand moral situations. Each of us experiences moral situations as participants and our sense making and linguistic descriptions are based in this participation. Teacher A and Teacher B live within certain kinds of moral relations, within circles of social meaning in their classrooms, families, school, and their relations with students. Our perception is not merely a psychological process consisting of individual intellectual faculties; its particulars are shaped by our experiences within ongoing, lived situations with other participants.
(Moral perception through aesthetics: engaging imaginations in educational ethics Journal of Teacher Education, by Abowitz, Kathleen Knight, September 1, 2007 at
People focus on notable differences, excluding those that are less conspicuous, when making predictions about happiness or convenience. For example, when people were asked how much happier they believe Californians are compared to Midwesterners, Californians and Midwesterners both said Californians must be considerably happier, when, in fact, there was no difference between the actual happiness rating of Californians and Midwesterners. The bias lies in that most people asked focused on and overweighed the sunny weather and ostensible easy-going lifestyle of California and devalued and underrated other aspects of life and determinants of happiness, such as low crime rates and safety from natural disasters like earthquakes (both of which large parts of California lack).
The bandwagon effect is well-documented in behavioral science and has many applications. The general rule is that conduct or beliefs spread among people, as fads and trends clearly do, with "the probability of any individual adopting it increasing with the proportion that have already done so". As more people come to believe in something, others also "hop on the bandwagon" regardless of the underlying evidence. The tendency to follow the actions or beliefs of others can occur because individuals directly prefer to conform, or because individuals derive information from others. Both explanations have been used for evidence of conformity in psychological experiments.
The bias blind spot is the cognitive bias of failing to compensate for one's own 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 subject to the biases described than the average person.
People have, through their lifetimes, built series of mental emotional filters. They use these filters to make sense of the world. The choices they then make are influenced by their frame or emotional filters.
People with strong biases toward an issue (partisans) perceive media coverage as biased against their opinions, regardless of the reality. Proponents of the hostile media effect argue that this finding cannot be attributed to the presence of bias in the news reports, since partisans from opposing sides of an issue rate the same coverage as biased against their side and biased in favor of the opposing side.
The illusion of control is the tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control events, for instance to feel that they control outcomes that they demonstrably have no influence over. The effect was named by psychologist Ellen Langer and has been replicated in many different contexts. It is thought to influence gambling behavior and belief in the paranormal. Along with illusory superiority and optimism bias, the illusion of control is one of the positive illusions. The illusion arises because people lack direct introspective insight into whether they are in control of events. Instead they judge their degree of control by a process that is often unreliable. As a result, they see themselves as responsible for events when there is little or no causal link.
The exposure effect (also known as the mere exposure effect) is a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them. In social psychology, this effect is sometimes called the familiarity principle. In studies of interpersonal attraction, the more often a person is seen by someone, the more pleasing and likeable that person appears to be.
An individual's track record as a good egalitarian individual can establish an unconscious ethical certification, endorsement, or license within that individual and this will increase their likelihood of making less egalitarian decisions later. This moral credentialing effect occurs even when the individual's audience is unaware of the individual's previously established moral credential. For example, individuals who had the opportunity to recruit a woman or African American in one setting were more likely to say later, in a different setting, that a job would be better suited for a man or a Caucasian (Monin & Miller, 2001).
Negativity bias is the name for a psychological phenomenon by which humans pay more attention to and give more weight to negative rather than positive experiences or other kinds of information. This shows up in a number of domains, including:
• When given a piece of positive information and a piece of negative information about a stranger, people's judgment of the stranger will be negative, rather than neutral (assuming the two pieces of information are not severely imbalanced).
• If a person has a good experience and a bad experience close together, they will feel worse than neutral. This is true even if they would independently judge the two experiences to be of similar magnitude.
• Negative information in the simple form of negation has greater impact and creates more attention than similar positive information in the form of affirmation. For example, describing a behavior in an affirmation elicits less attention and cognitive processing than describing the same behavior using a negation. This is related to information processing on negation in cognitive psychology.
• When put in an environment with a variety of information to pay attention to, people will immediately notice the threats instead of the opportunities or the signals of safety.
The normalcy bias refers to a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of the government to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred that it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before.
Post-purchase rationalization is a phenomenon whereby someone who purchases an expensive product or service overlooks any faults or defects in order to justify their purchase. Expensive purchases often involve a lot of careful research and deliberation, and many consumers will often refuse to admit that their decision was made in poor judgment. Many purchasing decisions are made emotionally, based on factors such as brand-loyalty and advertising, and so are often rationalized retrospectively in an attempt to justify the choice. For example, a consumer cannot decide between two popular games consoles, X and Y, but in the end decides to purchase product X on the basis that many of their peers also own this console. After purchasing it, they find that many of their favourite games are only available on product Y. However, they do not wish to feel they made the wrong decision, and so will convince themselves, and their peers, that product X is better than product Y, using arguments such as "I didn't want to play those games anyway".
Reactance is an emotional reaction in direct contradiction to rules or regulations that threaten or eliminate specific behavioral freedoms. Reactance can occur when someone is heavily pressured to accept a certain view or attitude. Reactance can cause the person to adopt or strengthen a view or attitude that is contrary to what was intended, and also increases resistance to persuasion. People using reverse psychology are playing on at least an informal awareness of reactance, attempting to influence someone to choose the opposite of what they request.
Wishful thinking is the formation of beliefs and making decisions according to what might be pleasing to imagine instead of by appealing to evidence, rationality or reality. Studies have consistently shown that holding all else equal; subjects will predict positive outcomes to be more likely than negative outcomes. In addition to being a cognitive bias and a poor way of making decisions, wishful thinking is commonly held to be a specific logical fallacy in an argument when it is assumed that because we wish something to be true or false that it is actually true or false. This fallacy has the form "I wish that P is true/false, therefore P is true/false." Wishful thinking, if this were true, would underlie appeals to emotion, and would also be a red herring. A believer in UFOs may accept that most UFO photos are faked, but claim that the ones that haven't been debunked must be considered genuine.
There is a tendency for people to assume that their own opinions, beliefs, preferences, values and habits are 'normal' and that others also think the same way that they do. This cognitive bias tends to lead to the perception of a consensus that does not exist, a 'false consensus'. The false consensus effect is caused by a tendency for people to project their way of thinking onto other people. The fallacy involves a group or individual assuming that their own opinions, beliefs and predilections are more prevalent amongst the public than they really are. The false consensus effect is not necessarily restricted to cases where people believe that their values are shared by the majority. The false consensus effect is also evidenced when people overestimate the extent of their particular belief is correlated with the belief of others. Thus, fundamentalists do not necessarily believe that most people share their views, but their estimates of the number of fundamentalists or people who share their point of view will tend to exceed the number that actually exists. One thinks the collective opinion of their own group matches that of the larger population. Since the members of a group reach a consensus and rarely encounter those who dispute it, they tend to believe that everybody thinks the same way. As an extension, when confronted with evidence that a consensus does not exist, people often assume that the others who do not agree with them are defective in some way.
A self-serving bias occurs when people attribute their successes to internal or personal factors but attribute their failures to situational factors beyond their control. The self-serving bias can be seen in the common human tendency to take credit for success but to deny responsibility for failure It may also manifest itself as a tendency for people to evaluate ambiguous information in a way that is beneficial to their interests. Self-serving bias may be associated with the better-than-average effect, in which individuals are biased to believe that they typically perform better than the average person in areas important to their self-esteem. This effect, also called "illusory superiority", has been found when people rate their own driving skill, social sensitivity, leadership ability and many other attributes.
The term "self-serving bias" is most often used to describe a pattern of biased causal inference, in which praise or blame depend on whether success or failure was achieved. For example, a student who gets a good grade on an exam might say, "I got an A because I am intelligent and I studied hard!" whereas a student who does poorly on an exam might say, "The teacher gave me an F because he does not like me!" When someone strategically strives to facilitate external causes for their poor performance (so that they will subsequently have a means to avoid blaming themselves for failure), it may be labeled self-handicapping.
People not only want to hold favorable attitudes about themselves (ego-justification) and their own groups (group-justification), but they also want to hold favorable attitudes about the overarching social order (system-justification). A consequence of this tendency is that existing social, economic, and political arrangements tend to be preferred, and alternatives to the status quo are disparaged.

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