Gentle Bamboo Solutions

Cognitive Bias Actor-Observer Bias


A cognitive bias is a systematic error in thinking. It affects everyone. Biases affect you even when you’re aware of them and actively try to correct the errors.

One of the common biases that affect all of us is known as Actor-Observer Bias.

This is the belief that when something bad happens in your life, you are an actor (responsible) for it. However, when something bad happens in my life, I’m merely an observer in it.

If you come to a meeting late, that means you didn’t plan your time better. In other words, you’re responsible for it. When I come late to a meeting, it is because of traffic, or ill-health, or a dozen other possible reasons. I can’t be expected to be perfect. I expect you to "act" responsibly at all times, but I merely "observe" situations that influence my life.

It’s incredibly difficult, and needs constant thought to avoid letting this bias impact our judgment, but it’s well worth it. Real empathy and maturity come only when we are willing to cast aside or fight this bias, and offer the same benefit of doubt to others.

You’re ok I’m ok,