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Title: The Bias Blind Spot and Making Objective Decisions Despite It
Authors: Hansen, Katherine Elizabeth
Advisors: Pronin, Emily
Todorov, Alexander
Contributors: Psychology Department
Keywords: bias
bias correction
blind spot
Subjects: Social psychology
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: People are quick to point out bias in others, yet are reticent to admit to bias in themselves. This dissertation explores the depths of this "bias blind spot" while putting forth a manipulation to overcome it. A series of studies first explores the psychological effects of knowingly using a biased decision-making strategy. Despite recognizing bias in their strategy, participants still saw their decision outcome as objective (even though they had actually been biased). After investigating an alternative mechanism, the current research suggests that this finding is due to bias occurring unconsciously. When judging others, people focus on the person's behavior for signs of bias. However, when judging the self, people look inwardly and mistakenly rely on introspection. This dissertation puts forth that this self-other asymmetry in bias attribution could be manipulated to increase objectivity. That is, when trying to make a decision that would appear objective to an observer, participants made more objective decisions than when asked to simply be objective or when left to make their own decision. In a series of studies, I demonstrate the efficacy of asking people to make a decision that appears objective. I then examine a downstream consequence of the manipulation to appear objective, presenting evidence that it improves interpersonal behavior. I then establish that this manipulation does not lead to reactance in private beliefs. Finally, a pair of studies establish how the appear-objective manipulation leads to greater willingness to blind oneself to potentially biasing information, indicating its usefulness in situations where there is not a clearly objective decision to make. Despite showing people's pervasive tendency to see themselves and the decisions that they make in an objective light, this dissertation puts forth a successful manipulation to increase the objectivity of people's decisions. By shifting the focus of attention away from internal thoughts and intentions and onto external behavior, the objectivity of people's decisions can be increased despite the persistent existence of the bias blind spot. With a simple instruction, people can overcome a host of biases in their decisions, from sexism to self-serving bias.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Psychology

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