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Are Smarter People More Biased?

The smarter people are, the more likely they are to fall victim to cognitive bias.

The so-called bias blind spot arises when people report that thinking biases are more prevalent in others than in themselves. Bias turns out to be relatively easy to recognize in the behaviors of others, but often difficult to detect in one’s own judgments. Most previous research on the bias blind spot has focused on bias in the social domain. In 2 studies, we found replicable bias blind spots with respect to many of the classic cognitive biases studied in the heuristics and biases literature (e.g., Tversky & Kahneman, 1974). Further, we found that none of these bias blind spots were attenuated by measures of cognitive sophistication such as cognitive ability or thinking dispositions related to bias. If anything, a larger bias blind spot was associated with higher cognitive ability. Additional analyses indicated that being free of the bias blind spot does not help a person avoid the actual classic cognitive biases. We discuss these findings in terms of a generic dual-process theory of cognition.

The authors note, “people who were aware of their own biases were not better able to overcome them.” In fact, “more cognitively sophisticated participants showed larger bias blind spots.”

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Source: Cognitive Sophistication Does Not Attenuate the Bias Blind Spot.