Sunday, February 20, 2011

Self-serving bias

Self-serving bias. What does it mean? It’s mean “the common human tendency to attribute one’s successes to personal characteristics, and one’s failures to factors beyond one’s control. The reason people tend to personalize success is because it helps their self-esteem levels. Most people demonstrate this behavior on a regular basis. It is human nature to take credit for things like an A on a test or a job well done at work. It is also human nature to avoid responsibility entirely for mistakes or problems”.(quote from

I realized that this is more common to happen around us. For example, as a student, when you get low expectation mark, you have tendency to blame your lecturer teaching skills or blame the subject for been difficult than your own understanding of the subject you took.

The term "self-serving bias" is most often used to describe a pattern of biased causal inference, in which praise or blame depend on whether success or failure was achieved. For example, a student who gets a good grade on an exam might say, "I got an A because I am intelligent and I studied hard!" whereas a student who does poorly on an exam might say, "The teacher gave me an F because he does not like me!" When someone strategically strives to facilitate external causes for their poor performance (so that they will subsequently have a means to avoid blaming themselves for failure), it may be labeled self-handicapping (Wikipedia)

What is self-handicapping?

Self-handicapping is described as an action or choice which prevents a person from being responsible for failure. Self-handicapping behaviour allows individuals to externalise failures but internalise success; accepting credit for achievements, but allowing excuses for failings. Self-handicapping can be seen as a method of preserving self-esteem but it can also be used for self-enhancement. People may self-handicap to manage the impressions of others, or of themselves.
For example, if you weak in Mathematic subject, you will tell yourself you can’t get any better even if you put much effort on it. So before the day of your examination, you have tendency to play rather than studying.

How does self-handicapping happen?

Relation to Mood

Previous research has looked at the consequences of self-handicapping and have suggested that self-handicapping leads to a more positive mood (at least in the short term).However, based on past evidence that positive mood motivates self-protective attributions for success and failure and increases the avoidance of negative feedback, recent research has focused on mood as an antecedent to self-handicapping; expecting positive mood to increase self-handicapping behaviour. Results have shown that people who are in positive mood are more likely to engage in self-handicapping, even at the cost of jeopardizing future performance (Wikipedia).
This is true; we always wanted to stay in our own comfort zone if possible. There’s why we give lots of reasons to avoid anything that will discomfort us.

What is illusory superiority?

According to Wikipedia, the effects of illusory superiority have also been found to be strongest when people rate themselves on abilities at which they are totally incompetent. These subjects have the greatest disparity between their actual performance (at the low end of the distribution) and their self-rating (placing themselves above average). This Dunning–Kruger effect is interpreted as a lack of metacognitive ability to recognize their own incompetence.

Now what is metacognitive?

Metacognition refers to one’s knowledge concerning one’s own cognitive processes or anything related to them, e.g., the learning-relevant properties of information or data. For example, I am engaging in metacognition if I notice that I am having more trouble learning A than B; if it strikes me that I should double check C before accepting it as fact. (J. H. Flavell 1976, p. 232)

Back to the topic, people who are Self-serving bias tendency to be have more hatred in them. Why? For example, when you did something wrong and your superior advice you and you found it disinterested you and in fact you hate him/her after that incident happened. This is because you reject to accept the fact and you blame the people who discipline you. You want to twist the fact that you did nothing wrong to make yourself feel better. Now, ask yourself, how you learn to improve in life or what do you learn from that kind of attitude? Again, what does comment/feedback and critiques means to you? How you take it?


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