The nature of ability bias

Remember all those studies showing that people claim they are above-average drivers?  Or above-average at other things they do?  It may not just be self-deception.  Here is the latest:

…we find it easier to consider the favourable evidence for a single
person than we do for a whole group. Consistent with this is the
finding that people tend to be biased when comparing any single
individual, not just themselves, against a group of others.

also the possibility that we’re biased towards the "target" in any
comparison. The "target" is the entity that is being measured up
against some benchmark. Following this logic, if I asked you how good
all other drivers are compared with you (thus making other drivers the
"target" of the comparison and you the benchmark), then this ought to
reduce the bias you’d show towards yourself.

…A new study has tried to get to the bottom of what causes the "above
average effect" by pitching these three explanations against each
other. Zlatan Krizan
and Jerry Suls Dozens asked dozens of undergraduates to list a group of
friends or acquaintances, to take one member of that group and then
compare that individual with the rest of the group on some attribute –
say, generosity.

Of the three factors, our difficulty in seeing the quality of a group, relative to the quality of an individual, seems to be the primary source of bias in the ranking. 

Fortunately, I am better at avoiding that bias than are my readers.


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