Tag Archives: self-serving bias

The overwhelming habit of biases and self-evaluation

Differences amongst groups of people tend to be most salient at the cultural level. A comparison often cited is that of Eastern and Western cultures. These group differences, however, tend to be caricatured stereotypes of people that may not hold true in all contexts.  Take for instance, the cultural differences in East vs. West explained pictorially. Life for those in the Eastern culture is pictured as having multiple individuals holding hands signifying collectivism. In the Western culture there is a picture of one individual, depicting the concept of individualism. Another cultural difference is portrayed as Westerners addressing problems directly, and Easterners indirectly addressing problems.

Brown (2010), on the other hand, argues that Eastern and Western cultures may not be as different as people think. At a basic level, for instance, Brown writes that people want to feel good about themselves and those around them.  The researcher notes that when given negative feedback individuals tend to feel worse about themselves; tend to compare themselves to each other, and see themselves and those close to them in better light than others as a result. Comparisons such as self-evaluations require that the individual see him or herself independent from others, regardless of culture.

Self-serving biases that occur during social comparisons or self-evaluations are important for purposes such as competition—especially in one to one combat or group sports. In one to one combat, for instance the individual is accountable for oneself only.  In group sports, the team is meant to act as a unit but the individual is held accountable or readily replaced should he or she not be cut out for the task.  More to the point, as the FIFA 2010 world cup draws closer, individuals will observe similar behavior from different cultural groups. Such behavior is expected since individuals are likely to get football fever. Eastern and Western cultures therefore are similar; people adapt.

See more: East vs. West explained pictorially

Brown, J.D. (2010). Across the (Not So) great divide: Cultural similarities in self-evaluative processes

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Self-Serving Biases Influence Preventative Health Behaviors


The upcoming cold and flu season promises to be a trying one. In addition to dealing with the usual aches, pains, and discomfort associated with illness this time of year many are becoming anxious over the resurgence of the swine flu. Symptoms that normally would not cause fear or panic are likely to be over scrutinized sending an abundance of patients to hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices over the next few months. While vaccines will be available in mid-October, psychologists have an interesting take on who is most likely to take advantage of them. Research has shown that while most people were biased in thinking that their health was superior to others, those who expressed the intention to get inoculated among other things expressed lower levels of health bias (Larwood, 2006). Self-serving biases are associated with a variety of positive and negative outcomes for the self, but in this case overconfidence could be deadly.


Swine Flu: A Field Study of Self-Serving Biases


Preparing for a Stressful Flu Season

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