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Social Sampling Explains Apparent Biases in Judgments of Social Environments

Mirta Galesic, Henrik Olsson, and Jörg Rieskamp

How accurately do people assess characteristics of the general population? Participants answered questions about 10 characteristics related to their love life, financial situation, friendships, health, work stress, and education. They also estimated the distribution of these qualities in their own social group and in the larger population. Although participants were fairly accurate in judging their social group, their estimates of the population were less accurate. In addition, participants showed specific trait-dependent enhancements or deficits in the reporting of their own characteristics. Researchers found these data to be a good fit with the Social-Sampling Model, in which self-enhancement and self-depreciation are caused by interaction between the underlying environmental structure in people’s lives and the sampling processes used.

Shared Visual Attention Reduces Hindsight Bias

Daw-An Wu, Shinsuke Shimojo, Stephanie W. Wang, and Colin F. Camerer

Hindsight bias is the tendency to think of outcomes as being more foreseeable in retrospect than they actually were. Participants were split into a “performer” group and an “evaluator” group. Performers were shown blurry pictures that gradually became clearer and were told to indicate as quickly as possible whether the pictures contained a human or not. Evaluators had to estimate at what point performers could make their judgment. Researchers found that greater mismatches between the eye gaze patterns of evaluators and performers led to larger amounts of hindsight bias. Showing evaluators the eye gaze patterns of the performers (which allowed them to better understand the point of view of the performers) reduced evaluators’ hindsight bias.