|Clear Thinking and Psychology
Dr. R. A. R. Perera
Let us consider two strategies that people use in making social judgements. First is the availability bias. People generally rely on their immediately available memories in making judgements. They dont take careful accounts of all instances, as a scientist might, but instead simply rely on what at the time is available in the memory. More formally, they use an available heuristic, or habit of solving problems.
To illustrate, suppose you were asked whether your mother is a nurturant person. To answer this question as a scientist you would want an accurate record of all your mothers actions over time. This information would enable you to make a precise statement about your mothers character. Of course no one has such records.
All that usually is available are scattered memories, and these may change with circumstances. Thus, if you were asked about your mothers nuturance on a day that happened to be your birthday and your mother had forgotten your birthday, your available memories probably would be unfavorable to your mother.
On another day, when she was more motherly, our memories might be different and you might give a much different answer. The availability bias would have caused you to make errors in judgement.
A second faulty strategy of thinking is false consensus bias. People tend to see their own actions as being relatively normal, approapriate, and in consensus with others, while viewing others who behave differently as being odd or deviant.
For example, parents who batter their children may be more likely than parents who dont rely on physical force to see such action as being normal. Neither group has an accurate and reliable count of the incidence of child abuse in the society.
However, for a verity of reasons, including their belief that they are normal people and the fact that they associate with people who are similar to them, they tend to assure that most people are like themselves.
People can get through life quite successfully despite these faulty patterns of thought. However, a person who knows about them may be somewhat cautious in making social judgements.
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