Correspondence bias and fundamental attribution error were often seen as interchangeable in the past. However, researchers have recently proposed that there is a subtle difference between the two.
- Correspondence bias refers to the fact that behavior is often viewed as a reflection of a person’s character. In other words, we believe that a person’s behavior reflects stable internal qualities, even though it was actually caused by the situation.
The fundamental attribution error refers to the idea that people fundamentally ignore or underestimate situational influences on others’ behavior.
- Although people often commit the fundamental attribution error, they do not necessarily fall for correspondence bias at the same time. Only when we take the fundamental attribution error one step further and judge a person’s character from their actions do we display correspondence bias.
A real-life example of perception bias is the false consensus effect. Because we spend most of our time with friends, family, and colleagues who share the same opinions or values we do, we are often misled to believe that the majority of people think or act in ways similar to us. This explains, for instance, why some people take office supplies home: they may genuinely feel that this behavior is more common than it really is.
Perception bias is a problem because it prevents us from seeing situations or people objectively. Rather, our expectations, beliefs, or emotions interfere with how we interpret reality. This, in turn, can cause us to misjudge ourselves or others. For example, our prejudices can interfere with whether we perceive people’s faces as friendly or unfriendly.
Selective perception is the unconscious process by which people screen, select, and notice objects in their environment. During this process, information tends to be selectively perceived in ways that align with existing attitudes, beliefs, and goals.
Although this allows us to concentrate only on the information that is relevant for us at present, it can also lead to perception bias. For example, while driving, if you become hyper-focused on reaching your exit on a highway, your brain may filter visual stimuli so that you can only focus on things you need to notice in order to exit the highway. However, this can also cause you to miss other things happening around you on the road.
Myside bias is a type of cognitive bias where individuals process information in a way that favors their prior beliefs and attitudes. It occurs when people search for, interpret, and recall information that confirms their opinions, and refute opinions different from their own—such as selecting news sources that agree with one’s political affiliation, while ignoring any opposing arguments from other sources.
Myside bias is closely related to confirmation bias. Although some researchers use the terms interchangeably, others use myside bias to refer to the tendency of processing information that supports one’s own position.
The planning fallacy refers to people’s tendency to underestimate the resources needed to complete a future task, despite knowing that previous tasks have also taken longer than planned.
For example, people generally tend to underestimate the cost and time needed for construction projects. The planning fallacy occurs due to people’s tendency to overestimate the chances that positive events, such as a shortened timeline, will happen to them. This phenomenon is called optimism bias.
A positive illusion is a form of self-deception under which people have inflated, favorable attitudes about themselves or others close to them.
The most common positive illusions involve:
- Exaggerating one’s positive traits
- Overestimating one’s degree of control in life
- Harboring overly optimistic beliefs about future events (also called optimism bias).
The opposite of optimism bias is pessimism bias. Optimism bias occurs when we overestimate our chances of experiencing positive events in our lives, while pessimism bias occurs when we overestimate our chance of experiencing negative events.
For example, pessimism bias could cause someone to think they are going to fail an exam, even though they are well prepared and usually get good grades.
The opposite of implicit bias is explicit bias, or conscious bias. This refers to preferences, opinions, and attitudes of which people are generally consciously aware. In other words, explicit bias is expressed openly and deliberately.
Because of the framing effect, the way information is presented to us influences how attractive a proposition is.
Suppose you are considering joining a gym. A membership at $500 per year sounds like a considerable investment and might prevent you from signing up immediately. However, if they tell you it costs just $1.37 per day and emphasize that this is less than the cost of a cup of coffee, you might think it’s a great offer, even though in reality both offers cost you the same.