Friday, March 17, 2023

How to reduce the bias blind spot in others

There are several things that you can do to reduce the bias blind spot in other people, in order to help them become more aware of their biases and of how those biases influence their reasoning:

Explain what the bias blind spot is, and how it affects people, potentially using relevant examples.

Explain that everyone is susceptible to the bias blind spot, including them, and including people who are intelligent and good at critical thinking.

Explain the major causes of this bias (naïve realism, the introspection illusion, and ego-related needs), and ask if they think these factors could currently influence them, and if not, then why not?

Ask them if it’s they think that it’s possible that they’re currently experiencing the bias blind spot or any other biases. Then, ask them to justify their answer, especially if they say “no”, and also ask them to consider what things, in particular, might bias their reasoning.

Encourage them to assess their situation in a self-distanced manner, for example by considering whether someone else, and especially someone with an opposing stance than them, could be biased if they were in the same situation.

If you see they experience a specific bias or have a specific issue with their reasoning, ask them about it or point it out directly.

Help or encourage them to use general debiasing techniques, such as slowing down their reasoning process and making it explicit.

However, as when trying to reduce your own bias blind spot, keep in mind that you likely won’t be able to eliminate other people’s bias blind spot entirely, and that you might not reduce it at all. Even if you reduce people’s bias blind spot, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to reduce the biases that it was hiding.

Overall, to reduce the bias blind spot in others, explain what this bias is and that everyone—including them—are susceptible to it, outline the causes of this bias and ask them if they might be influenced by these causes, ask them if they might experience this bias and whether other people in their situation might experience it, point out specific issues with their reasoning, and help or encourage them to use general debiasing techniques.

The bias blind spot was first described in a 2002 study titled “The Bias Blind Spot: Perceptions of Bias in Self Versus Others”, published by Stanford University researchers Emily Pronin, Daniel Y. Lin, and Lee Ross in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (Volume 28, Issue 3, pages 369–381).

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