Posts Tagged ‘Empathy Bias’

Pleasure from your pain: how the empathy bias makes us kinda shitty people

April 17th, 2017 9 comments

Notice the girl wearing a white sweater in the background smiling as she walks by? Her reaction could be a perfect example of the empathy bias. (

Remember in high school when there was that clique (or whatever the boy-version of a clique would be called) that you absolutely loved to hate and got a sense of personal pleasure when something went wrong for a member of the group? For example, when the fourteen-year-old you watched that annoyingly pretty girl drop her lunch in the cafeteria all over her side-kick best friend, you laughed and felt a swell of happiness. I might not be able to claim that you’re not still a slightly shitty person for feeling that way, but cognitive psychology research may have some reasoning behind those feelings and it’s called the empathy bias.

Read more…

Naïve Realism: Our Misinterpretation of How We Interpret the World

April 17th, 2017 6 comments

“I disagree.” Words that make us cringe. We have an innate desire for our worldview to be the correct one. This motivation is further exacerbated by our overconfidence in ourselves. We enter arguments thinking we are correct, but in reality, we have subconscious biases that may lead to us not being as accurate as we think we are.

Imagine that you are having an argument with a close friend about who deserves the title of the best baseball player of all time. You are adamant that the title goes to Barry Bonds, but your friend is dead set on Babe Ruth. You present your respective arguments, stating your opinions and even backing them up with the players’ incredible stats. You wonder to yourself, why doesn’t your friend have the same opinion as you? You figure they must be ill informed, that any logical person would choose Barry Bonds. However, you forget to take into account that your dad brought you to the Giants game on August 7, 2007, when Bonds broke the record for most career home runs (Baseball-Reference, 2017). The crowd went wild, the atmosphere was electric, and this became your favorite sports moment of all time. However, because you experienced this momentous event, you have a strong emotional connection to Bonds that tampers with your ability to objectively analyze him as a baseball player. Even though statistically, he may NOT be the best baseball player, your opinion is subconsciously swayed by your incredible experience that day at the ballpark. This highlights the basis of the cognitive error in psychology called naïve realism.

Naïve realism refers to the notion that our world view is strictly objective and veridical. We also believe that others will interpret information with this same view, and if their view differs, they must be biased or have an irrational thought process (Ross & Ward, 1996). To read about all the different psychological concepts that contribute evidence to naïve realism, click here.

Read more…

Have a Little Empathy: How to Overcome the Empathy Gap and Understand Each Other

April 17th, 2017 4 comments

Road rage is an example of a common emotional reaction that we might not understand in others

Picture this: you’re driving on a busy street with your friend. All of a sudden, a car comes out of nowhere and cuts you off. You’re in a hurry to get somewhere, and this makes you angry. So, you take the first opportunity to zoom into the left lane and speed past the car that cut you off, looking at the driver as you pass. Its not until your friend shouts “Watch out!” that you slam on the brakes and realize you almost hit the car in front of you at a red light. Your friend chastises you for overreacting and driving recklessly. They don’t understand why you would do what you did, and after calming down, you don’t either. Sound familiar?

Read more…