It has been well established that people have a “bias blind spot,” meaning that they are less likely to detect bias in themselves than others. However, it hasn’t been clear how blind we are to our own actual degree of bias, and how many of us think we are less biased than others.
Researchers have developed a tool to measure the bias blind spot, and their findings reveal that believing you are less biased than your peers has detrimental consequences on judgments and behaviors, such as accurately judging whether advice is useful.
“When physicians receive gifts from pharmaceutical companies, they may claim that the gifts do not affect their decisions about what medicine to prescribe because they have no memory of the gifts biasing their prescriptions.
“However, if you ask them whether a gift might unconsciously bias the decisions of other physicians, most will agree that other physicians are unconsciously biased by the gifts, while continuing to believe that their own decisions are not. This disparity is the bias blind spot, and occurs for everyone, for many different types of judgments and decisions,” says Erin McCormick, an author of the study and PhD student in behavioral decision research at Carnegie Mellon University.
THE BLIND SPOT
For the study, the researchers ran five experiments—the first two focused on creating and validating the tool to test for bias blind spot differences and whether it is associated with traits such as IQ, general decision-making ability, and self-esteem.