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Egocentric Bias: Definition & Examples of its Psychological Basis

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    In the workplace, it’s essential to make unbiased decisions that are in the best interest of the organization. However, humans have a tendency to overvalue their own opinions and experiences while undervaluing those of others, a phenomenon known as egocentric bias.

    This bias can have negative impacts on decision-making, teamwork, and overall productivity. It’s crucial to understand and recognize this bias in order to avoid it and make better decisions that benefit the entire organization. By actively seeking out and considering diverse perspectives, individuals and teams can work together more effectively to achieve success.

    Egocentric Bias: Definition

    Egocentric bias is a cognitive bias that causes individuals to overestimate the importance of their own opinions and experiences while underestimating the opinions and experiences of others. This bias can cause individuals to make decisions that are not in the best interest of the group, leading to poor outcomes.

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    Applications in Psychology

    Egocentric bias is a well-known phenomenon in psychology and has been studied extensively. It is often associated with the theory of mind, which is the ability to understand and predict the behavior of others. People with strong egocentric biases tend to have weaker theory of mind skills, which can make it difficult for them to understand and empathize with others.

    Examples of Egocentric Bias in Business & Life

    Egocentric bias can have significant impacts on personal relationships and business decisions. In personal relationships, egocentric bias can cause misunderstandings, miscommunication, and hurt feelings. When one partner in a relationship overvalues their own perspective and experiences, they may fail to consider or understand the feelings and perspectives of the other partner, leading to conflicts and negative outcomes.

    Evolutionary Basis for why Humans Have Egocentric Bias

    The evolutionary basis for egocentric bias can be traced back to the survival advantage of prioritizing one’s own needs and experiences in order to ensure individual survival. In early human societies, resources were often scarce, and individuals who focused on their own needs and safety were more likely to survive and pass on their genes to future generations.

    This bias also helped early humans navigate complex social relationships and establish hierarchies within groups, further contributing to their survival. While egocentric bias may have provided an advantage in the past, in modern times it can often lead to negative outcomes and hinder cooperation and collaboration within groups.

    Egocentricity in Business Situations

    In a business context, egocentric bias can lead to poor decision-making and hinder teamwork. This can cause resentment and decreased morale within teams, leading to lower productivity and ultimately negative impacts on the bottom line.

    Samantha, the CEO of a small tech startup, had a habit of prioritizing her own ideas over those of her team. She believed that her experience and knowledge gave her a better perspective on the direction the company should take. However, this led to her team feeling undervalued and demotivated.

    During a team meeting, Samantha presented her plan for the next quarter. Despite her conviction in the plan’s success, her team members had reservations about some of the proposed strategies. However, Samantha dismissed their concerns and went ahead with her plan without incorporating their feedback.

    As a result, the company’s quarterly goals were not met, and the team’s morale suffered. Several employees became resentful towards Samantha and began to disengage from their work, leading to decreased productivity.

    Egocentric Bias in Personal Situations

    In personal relationships, egocentric bias can lead to misunderstandings, miscommunication, and hurt feelings. When one partner in a relationship prioritizes their own perspective, they may fail to consider or understand the feelings and perspectives of their partner, leading to conflicts and negative outcomes.

    An example of egocentric bias in personal relationships can be seen in the story of Sarah and her partner, David. Sarah had always been passionate about hiking and the outdoors, while David preferred to spend his free time playing video games. Sarah would often try to convince David to come on hikes with her, but he would decline, citing his lack of interest and skill. Frustrated, Sarah would assume that David didn’t care about spending time with her or experiencing new things.

    One day, after a particularly frustrating argument about hiking, Sarah decided to try to see the situation from David’s perspective. She asked him to explain why he didn’t enjoy hiking and listened carefully to his response. David explained that he felt uncomfortable in nature and was afraid of getting lost or injured. He also felt that Sarah was dismissive of his interests and preferred to spend time alone rather than be dragged on hikes.

    After listening to David’s perspective, Sarah realized that her egocentric bias had prevented her from understanding his feelings and needs. She apologized for not considering his perspective and suggested they find other activities to do together that both of them could enjoy.


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    How to Avoid Egocentric Bias

    To overcome egocentric bias, individuals should make a conscious effort to seek out and value the perspectives and experiences of others. One effective way to do this is to actively seek feedback from colleagues, friends, and loved ones. By asking for feedback, we open ourselves up to different perspectives and can gain valuable insights into how others see us and the world around us.

    Another important strategy to overcome egocentric bias is to engage in active listening. This means giving our full attention to what others are saying, without interrupting or dismissing their ideas. By actively listening to others, we can gain a deeper understanding of their perspectives and experiences. We can then avoid making assumptions or jumping to conclusions.

    In addition to seeking feedback and engaging in active listening, it’s also important to consider multiple options before making a decision. Egocentric bias can lead individuals to make decisions based solely on their own experiences and perspectives, without considering the input of others. By considering multiple options and weighing the pros and cons of each, individuals can make more informed and well-rounded decisions.

    Finally, it’s crucial to be aware of our own biases and limitations, and to actively work to overcome them. This requires a willingness to acknowledge and confront our own biases, and to actively seek out different perspectives and experiences. By valuing and respecting the perspectives of others, we can develop a more inclusive and collaborative approach to decision-making.

    Additional Reading for Helping You Avoid Egocentric Bias

    If you’re interested in learning more about egocentric bias, there are a variety of resources available to help you deepen your understanding of this cognitive bias.

    One option is to read academic articles and research studies on the topic. There have been numerous studies conducted on egocentric bias, examining its impact on decision-making, problem-solving, and social interactions. Reading this research can provide valuable insights into the mechanisms of egocentric bias and how it can be overcome.

    Girl in a blue top with her hand on her face looking up with a many green trees in the background.

    Another option is to read books or articles written for a general audience on cognitive biases and decision-making. Many popular books on this topic, such as “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman or “The Art of Thinking Clearly” by Rolf Dobelli, touch on the concept of egocentric bias and how it can impact our thinking and decision-making processes.

    Additionally, you may want to seek out resources specifically tailored to your industry or profession. For example, if you work in healthcare, there may be resources available that explore how egocentric bias can impact patient care and treatment decisions.

    Finally, it can be helpful to engage in discussions or workshops on the topic of cognitive biases and decision-making. By discussing these concepts with colleagues or attending training sessions, you can gain new insights and perspectives on how to overcome egocentric bias in your personal and professional life.

    “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman

    “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman is a book that can help people better understand and overcome egocentric bias. The book explores the different cognitive systems that operate in our minds, and how these systems can sometimes lead us astray in our thinking and decision-making.

    Kahneman argues that our minds operate using two systems: System 1, which is fast, intuitive, and often automatic, and System 2, which is slower, more deliberate, and more analytical. He explains how System 1 thinking can lead us to make snap judgments based on our personal experiences and biases, while System 2 thinking can help us to consider multiple perspectives and make more informed decisions.

    By understanding the differences between these two systems, individuals can become more aware of how their own thinking processes may be influenced by egocentric bias. They can learn to slow down their thinking and engage in more deliberate, analytical reasoning when making important decisions, rather than relying solely on their own personal experiences and biases.

    Cover page of Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

    How our brain’s two thinking systems can lead to cognitive biases.

    Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman


    Egocentric bias can be a major obstacle to effective decision-making and teamwork. However, by acknowledging and actively working to overcome this bias, individuals and organizations can foster a more inclusive and collaborative environment that leads to better outcomes.

    By valuing the perspectives and ideas of others, individuals can broaden their own understanding of a situation and identify potential blind spots in their thinking. Ultimately, this can result in more informed and thoughtful decision-making, improved communication, and greater success in personal and professional contexts.

    Shaun Mendonsa, PhD is an influencing expert and pharmaceutical development leader. He writes on the topics of influence and persuasion, and develops next generation drugs in human pharma by advising international pharmaceutical CROs and CMOs. He can be reached at [email protected].


    Egocentric Bias, Daniel Kahneman, Personal Development, Decision Making, Irrational Decisions, Cognitive Bias

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