We all have bias of some form or another. It's natural. However, many of us
are unaware that we are subject to these biases, formed as they often are by
unconscious processes. We tend to more readily spot biased judgment in others.
Consequently most people tend to believe they exhibit less bias in both
judgment and behaviour than others. This phenomenon has been called the bias
This research presents the development of a concise and reliable instrument
to measure the propensity of individuals to exhibit the bias blind spot and
found that the tendency to see ourselves as less biased than our peers is a
stable individual difference across different contexts and over time, and is
independent of intelligence, cognitive ability, and personality traits related
to self-esteem, self-enhancement, and self-presentation.
The study also shows how the bias blind spot has important consequences for
the quality of judgments and decisions. For example, it affects how accurately
we evaluate our own abilities. It also has implications for how much we listen
to others' advice (people high in bias blind spot may ignore the advice of
financial experts or even doctors, for example) and how resistant we are to
interventions designed to reduce our own bias. This paper demonstrates that an
awareness of personal vulnerability to bias can help one be more receptive and
open to advice or training from external sources. That, in turn, improves
decision making, important in both the personal and professional realm.
Given the strong influence the bias blind spot can exert on judgment and
decision making, the measure developed as part of this research may prove
useful to those involved in personnel assessment, information analysis,
negotiation, consumer decision making, and education.
The final version of the research paper was recently published in Management Science.