Another well-known cognitive bias is called the actor-observer bias. It’s simply this: We see our own behavior as caused by external circumstances. We see others’ behavior as due to their own internal decisions.
We’re both grumpy? Well, that’s because the dog woke me up too early this morning, plus I just got an unfair parking ticket. But you’re grumpy because you’re being a jerk.
We both flunked an algebra test? Well, my sister was being loud so I couldn’t study last night, plus the questions weren’t quite clear. You failed it because maybe you’re just not smart enough.
I fail because of other stuff. You fail because of you. That’s how this works.
We don’t see others’ circumstances, and we don’t see ourselves clearly either. I’m a bad judge of you and a bad judge of me. When I’m aware of this, I spend less energy defending myself and less time trying to justify everything I do.
Hansen, Brant. 2020. The Truth about Us: The Very Good News about How Very Bad We Are. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.
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