Actor Observer Bias : Impacting User Behaviour








Actor observer bias, often referred to as actor observer asymmetry, is the propensity for people.  judge others and oneself based on their dispositions and situations, respectively.

In other words, it’s the propensity to overemphasise the importance. 

personality while downplaying the influence of a person’s environment while attempting to explain another person’s behaviours.

The explanations for people’s behaviours, however. go in the opposite direction; they place too much emphasis on the influence of our circumstances and too little emphasis on the influence of our personalities.

For instance, you might presume someone is grumpy or disagreeable when you meet them for the first time when in fact they were awake all night by their wailing child. In such a situation, we might be unable to determine the causes of their current attitude and may instead assume that their behaviour is just the result of their intrinsic disposition. 

How does actor observer bias affect how we make decisions? 

The actor observer bias affects how people see and eventually characterise others, leading them to frequently make snap judgements about others’ personalities while rationalising their own actions as being the result of environmental or situational variables. Consider the choice of whether or not to give money to a homeless person as an illustration. The majority of individuals support charity giving and like to think of themselves as charitable. They might even often give to charities. Most individuals do not stop to offer money to homeless persons they see on the street, though, frequently claiming excuses. This is a blatant example of an asymmetric prejudice that attributes unfavourable traits to the homeless person’s disposition while excusing one’s own actions due to situational circumstances (being late to work). 

Actor observer Bias: Where does it come from? 

It is frequently present while assessing the actions of others or oneself. Bias refers to a tendency or inclination towards a particular perspective or viewpoint.

This concept is related to the psychological notion of “locus of control,” which refers to an individual’s belief about whether their life outcomes are primarily influenced by external factors or their own actions and decisions. In other words, bias can be influenced by whether someone believes they have control over their life or if they think external factors play a larger role.

The actor-observer effect: Why does it happen? 

The actor-observer effect can be explained in two ways: 

Perceptual acuity – In contrast to when we observe the same behaviour in another person, when we are the actor, we have a weaker tendency to consider internal causes for the behaviour. Thus, we often blame someone’s clumsiness when we witness them trip and fall.

However, if we trip, we are more likely to blame external factors, such as a small crack in the pavement, or situational factors. Making situational justifications for our behaviour lessens our sense of personal responsibility because it places the locus of control for our lives outside of our control. This is probably an act of ego-preservation, which aids in maintaining our sense of self-worth. 

Informational discrepancies – Actors have a variety of information to draw from regarding how they have acted in prior situations, which is another reason why actors tend to make external attributions and observers to make internal ones. 

How can actor observer bias explain consumer choices? 

Let us understand this by taking an example of a doctor and his patient. When a doctor diagnoses a patient with diabetes or obesity, they may assume that the patient lacks the self-discipline to stick to a diet. However, if the doctor has been diagnosed with diabetes themselves, they may attribute their condition to situational factors such as the inconvenience of eating healthfully, a genetic predisposition to developing diabetes, or even the high cost of doing so. 

How can massaging make use of actor observer bias? 

This can be employed in messaging to counteract a person’s  unfavourable assumptions about the behaviour of another. Doctors may be motivated to treat patients and attribute less of their illness to the patient’s fault if they are given a description of them that better captures their behaviours as a result of situational influences. 

We are more likely to attribute our behaviours to external conditions than to our personalities, according to the actor observer bias. However, we are more likely to place blame on someone’s character when we are acting as the observer who must explain why they acted the way they did. You can visit the website of Newritics to get more insights about this bias. Fundamental attribution error is the term used to describe this erroneous or incorrect assumption made by the observer.