Social cognitive biases are a biased pattern of thinking about others. We may think too highly of them, too lowly of them or just incorrectly. Social cognitive biases affect our ability to rational assess others, or to assess rationally as a result of our views of others. These biases can have material impacts on behaviors and decisions in the world of work.
Social biases are biases that relate to our perceptions of ourselves or others, or the ways that we behave, act and reach decisions as a group. They play a huge role in our social fabric at a sociopolitical level, and also at a personal level. These factors are very important in most work places as well due to the social nature of many forms of employment.
Actor-observer Bias / Fundamental Attribution Bias
We consider the actions and behaviors of others to be predominantly driven by personality as opposed to circumstance, but we consider our own behaviors to be predominately driven by circumstances as opposed to personality.
We consider the opinions of authority figures to be more accurate than those of others, and are more influenced by them than by those of others, regardless of the quality of the actual opinion.
We believe certain things, do certain things or act in certain ways simply because others do so too.
We allocate a greater proportion of the credit to ourselves for the achievements of a collective group than an external, impartial observer would allocate.
False Consensus Effect
We usually overestimate how much others agree with us.
We allocate high levels of credibility and accuracy to descriptions of ourselves which we are told are specific and bespoke, even if they are generic and could apply to many people. Think horoscopes. And then think personality tests.
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We reach irrational, sub-optimal or even detrimental decisions, or undertake similarly flawed actions, as groups because of our desire to minimize confrontation and maximize harmony and conformity within our groups.
We think that if someone is good at one thing, then they will be good at other things too. Their positivity in one area of expertise increases our overall estimation of their abilities across a wide range of unrelated areas. The inverse of this bias is know as the “horns effect”.
Illusory Superiority Effect
We generally overestimate our positive qualities and underestimate our negative qualities compared to others.
We give preferential treatment and allocate higher levels of credibility to those we consider to be in our own in-group, than to those who are not.
We think that we are rational and not biased in our views and actions, while at the same time thinking that others are irrational and biased.
You can listen to our podcast, below, on nudging to learn more about how our behaviors can be influenced:
The World of Work Project View
We think that cognitive biases are fascinating and important. Social cognitive biases are important not just in our working lives, but in our personal lives and in society as a whole. They lead us to reach irrational decisions that may be detrimental to us as individuals, and to those around us in our immediate circles, or in wider society.
Learning about our social biases can help us understand some of our thought patterns and recognize when we are being irrational, which may help us make better decisions. The mechanisms of these biases are ingrained into us, so fighting them may be difficult, but it’s the right thing to do. Learning about them is a great start to that process.
Our Podcast is a great way to learn more about hundreds of fascinating topics from around the world of work.
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