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What Intelligence Tests Miss 8: Myside Processing

01/30/2013

Probably one of the most important biases, and one that no doubt atheists and skeptics are still quite susceptible to. There’s a great listing of studies that establish self serving biases in a variety of ways, all of which are relatively independent of intelligence. I wonder if there are any that are made even worse by intelligence, like from the sophistication effect. Lots of really smart people, I imagine, are emboldened because they can point out the flaws in others’ arguments really, really well, and then they create arguments so sophisticated that only few can manage to criticize them without screwing up. Then in seeing how many people fall short in their criticisms, they conclude that their argument is correct, when there are some definite flaws that only some might manage to understand (like the Blackwell Companion to Theology?). Then again, maybe I’m just saying that so I can continue to oppose people who are smarter than me and disagree. It’s a pretty convenient counterargument to any sophisticated claim.

Kindle Notes:

Our study illustrates what has been termed in the literature a myside bias. That is, people tend to evaluate a situation in terms of their own perspective. They judge evidence, they make moral judgments, and they evaluate others from a standpoint that is biased toward their own situation. In this case, they saw the dangerous vehicle as much more deserving of banning if it were a German vehicle in America than if it were an American vehicle in Germany (1283).

In short: “one reason for inappropriately high confidence is failure to think of reasons why one might be wrong” (1340).

Pronin summarizes research in which subjects had to rate themselves and others on their susceptibility to a variety of cognitive and social psychology biases that have been identified in the literature, such as halo effects and self-serving attributional biases (taking credit for successes and avoiding responsibility for failures). Pronin and colleagues found that across eight such biases, people uniformly felt that they were less biased than their peers. In short, people acknowledge the truth of psychological findings about biased processing-with the exception that they believe it does not apply to them (1373).

when evaluating their own bias, she posited, they fell back on an aspect of myside processing- monitoring their own conscious introspections. Modern lay psychological theory allows for biased processing, so biased processing is predicted for others. However, most social and cognitive biases that have been uncovered by research operate unconsciously. Thus, when we go on the introspective hunt for the processes operating to bias our own minds we find nothing. We attribute to ourselves via the introspective mechanism much less bias than we do when we extrapolate psychological theory to others (1377).

16. To summarize the individual differences research, intelligence differences in myside bias in the Ford Explorer-type problem are virtually nonexistent (Stanovich and West, 2007, 2008a). In the argument generation paradigms, they are also nonexistent (Macpherson and Stanovich, 2007; Toplak and Stanovich, 2003) (2897).

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