Blind Spot Bias


A co-worker said “most folks make charity donations because they want to be seen as generous… but my gifts are anonymous because my intentions are good and unselfish…” I have a hunch she really enjoys being recognized as a generous donor.

This is described as blind spot bias… a way of thinking where we identify biases in decisions of others, but fail to recognize our own biased conclusions. We deceive and self-enhance because we’re motivated to inflate our image at the cost of eliminating authentic self-examinations that would reveal biased confusions.


As biases are seen as undesirable, we rationalize coloring our own perceptions and judgments as being accurate and prejudice free. This self-enhancement especially applies when we’re likely to perceive ourselves as better decision makers than other folks we see. We tend to believe we’re aware of “how” and “why” we select choices and decisions… concluding bias is not present in any of our options or adopted missions.


Within our brain choices mainly arise from unconscious partialities and thinking shortcuts not from deliberate actions. Yet, when made aware of biases affecting our perceptions and judgments, we often struggle with seeing their infractions. Blind spot bias can be appreciated as an introspection illusion where we misguidedly think we have direct insight into the origins of our thoughts, while treating others’ introspections as an unreliable conclusion.


In assessing whether other folks are biased, we tend to aggressively evaluate their explicit conduct while evaluating whether we’re biased; we barely examine our own thoughts and feelings for motives that might obstruct. Since biases are often unconscious and our introspections are understandably not reliable when we unevenly attribute the presence of bias between ourselves and others, the description of our labeling just isn’t justifiable. Even though we confidently say, we’re not unfair, while the bias label we give others carries with it a cynical flare.


When it comes to our bias blind spot, it’s a funny feeling to know that when we self-examine our own judgements we tend to judge ourselves based on our concept of REALITY… Understanding we often don’t give other folks the same benefit… we might consider reflecting on our unconscious bias process with more IMPARTIALITY…

Copyright Alan P. Xenakis, MD Air Date May 4, 2017

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