Social Psychology


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Ψ  Self-Serving Bias

    Ψ  Self-Serving Bias: The tendency to perceive oneself favorably.

    Ψ  Self-Serving Bias: our tendency to take credit for success ( self-enhancing bias ) & deny any responsibility for failure ( self-protective bias ).

    Ψ  Self-serving bias ( the norm ) helps to protect our ego. It also enables us to confirm that we are meeting our goals. It's adaptive!

    Ψ  When self-serving bias diminishes responsibility for one’s self & places responsibility for failure externally, it's maladaptive!

    Ψ  We tend to be less self-serving if other needs interrupt, for example if we are subject to public scrutiny.

    Ψ  Defense against Unrealistic Optimism: Defensive pessimism is a cognitive strategy that individuals use to prepare for anxiety provoking events or performances. When implementing defensive pessimism, individuals set low expectations for their performance, regardless of how well they have done in the past. Defensive pessimists then think through specific negative events and setbacks that could adversely influence their goal pursuits. By envisioning possible negative outcomes, defensive pessimists can take action to avoid or prepare for them. Using this strategy, defensive pessimists can advantageously harness anxiety that might otherwise harm their performance.


Defensive pessimism is a strategy used by anxious people to help them manage their anxiety so they can work productively. Defensive pessimists lower their expectations to help prepare themselves for the worst. Then, they mentally play through all the bad things that might happen. Though it sounds as if it might be depressing, defensive pessimism actually helps anxious people focus away from their emotions so that they can plan and act effectively.

Strategic optimism is typically used by people who aren't anxious. Individuals using this strategy set high expectations, and then actively avoid thinking much about what might happen. Both strategic optimists and defensive pessimists typically do quite well, but both groups are also vulnerable to situations that don't accommodate their strategies. My experimental research shows that if defensive pessimists try to raise their expectations, or avoid playing through a worst-case analysis, their anxiety increases and their performance suffers. If strategic optimists set lower expectations or play through possible outcomes, their anxiety increases and their performance decreases.

People may use different strategies in different situations, and not everyone is either a defensive pessimist or a strategic optimist.

   Are you a defensive Pessimist? Take this quiz to find out! (n.d.). Retrieved January 25, 2015, from site

Ψ  Are you a defensive pessimist? Click here to find out!

Ψ  False Consensus Effect: The tendency to overestimate the commonality of one's opinions and the commonality of one's undesirable or unsuccessful behaviors.

Ψ  False Uniqueness Effect: The tendency to underestimate the commonality of one's abilities and the commonality of one's desirable or successful behaviors.

Social Psychology
  Robert C. Gates