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Research on selfish bias distinguishes the role of participants as actors of a task or as observers of another person performing a task, which is closely related to the asymmetry between actor and observer. The actors of a task show selfish bias in their attributions to their own return from success or failure, while observers do not make the same attributions on the outcome of another person`s task. [2] Observers tend to be more objective in their tendency to attribute internal or external attributions to other people`s results. This may be due to the fact that the actors` self-image is directly questioned and therefore actors feel the need to protect their own self-image, but do not feel the same tendency to do so when the self-image of others is threatened. [25] Cultural influence may play a role in how often people adopt self-serving biases. While this bias is fairly common in the United States and Canada, it tends to be much less common in Asian countries. There are several ways to test for selfish biases: Wang X, Zheng L, Li L, et al. Immune to the situation: selfish bias in clear contexts. Psychol Front 2017;8:822. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00822 But because knowing how to admit when you`re wrong or responsible for a negative outcome is paramount for growth, it`s important to challenge selfish biases and learn to be more accepting of criticism. There is evidence of cross-cultural differences in the tendency to show selfish biases, especially when considering individualistic (Western) versus collectivist (non-Western) societies. [21] Family and collective goals are important in collectivist cultures.

In contrast, the individual goals and identity on which individualistic societies focus increase the need of people in these cultures to protect and strengthen their self-esteem. Although differences have been demonstrated, the contradictory literature has cited similarities in causal attributions between individual and collective cultures, particularly between Belgium, West Germany, South Korea and England. [22] Naturalistic observations and information comparing the profit attributions of US and Japanese firms show that the meaning and psychological function of internal and external attributions are similar from culture to culture, but that the difference lies in the attribution strategy. [9] No consensus was reached on cross-cultural influences on self-serving prejudices, although some systematic differences seem to exist, particularly between Western and non-Western cultures. For example, a study conducted by Kudo and Numuzaki titled “Explicit and Direct Self-Serving Bias in Japan Reexamination of Self-Serving Bias for Success and Failure” showed that participants in the success condition provided more internal attributions than participants in the failure condition, even though previous research has consistently shown that Japanese do not tend to exhibit selfish bias. [23] Another study by Hugten and Witteloostuijn entitled “The foreign language effect on the self-serving bias: A field experiment in the high school classroom” also showed that students aged 13 to 15 who process comments primarily in non-native English tend to show more selfish biases than those who process comments in their native Dutch. [24] Finally, research has also shown that selfish bias occurs nationally. In other words, instead of an individual attributing personal factors to their own successes and external factors to their failures, groups often attribute factors that are unique to their country when successes occur and factors related to other countries when they encounter failures. Studies show that we can easily see how selfish biases affect the actions of others, but we have trouble discerning how they affect our own.

Different types of motivation can also influence selfish biases. When people are motivated by self-improvement, they feel the need to use internal attributions for success and external attributions for failure to improve their self-view. Selfish bias – bias and heuristics. (2021). Retrieved by people with internal LOC may be more likely to exhibit self-serving bias, particularly in terms of success. Some more modern tests use neural imaging techniques to supplement basic laboratory procedures of selfish bias. Neural correlates of selfish biases have been studied using electroencephalography (EEG)[12] and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). [11] These methods provide insight into brain area activity when demonstrating self-interested biases, as well as a mechanism for distinguishing brain activity between healthy and clinical populations. [16] A person with a place of external control is more willing to explain the failure in a self-serving manner than persons with a place of internal control. By acknowledging successes and blaming failures elsewhere, they can protect their self-esteem. As this phenomenon gained traction in the `60s and `70s, two prominent psychologists, Dale Miller and Michael Ross, pushed back on the explanation of self-esteem, arguing that selfish biases are more related to how reality aligns with an individual`s expectations. There are scenarios where selfish bias is less likely.

People in romantic relationships and close friendships, for example, can be more humble. In other words, your friends or partner keep you at bay with honest reviews about when a bad situation might be at least partly your fault. De Michele, P. E., Gansneder, B. and Solomon, G. B. (1998). Wrestlers` Success and Failure Attributions: Further evidence of self-serving bias. Journal of Sport Behavior, 21(3), 242. These cutting-edge theories help illustrate why we might regularly fall prey to selfish prejudices. And while the cause is still debated, there`s no doubt that this form of bias is incredibly widespread.

Selfish biases are unique in that they are closely linked to our self-esteem. When we rely on this bias to increase our self-esteem, it makes self-improvement difficult because we are less likely to learn from our mistakes and accept negative feedback. Selfish biases can vary from one demographic group to another as well as over time in an individual. And because the outcome and players are so obvious, selfish biases are especially common in individual sports, where the single winner is even more defined. Age and gender have been shown to influence selfish bias. Older people tend to do more internal attributions, that is, to congratulate themselves on their achievements. Men are more likely to make external attributions, which means they tend to blame outside forces for their failures.

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