Sunday, April 30, 2006

Psychology Lesson One

I often hear an argument from conservatives about 'The Arabs', 'The Muslims', 'The liberals', etc. Often times, their opinions are based on a psychological bias called "Outgroup Homogeneity Bias".

People displaying this bias believe that members of their own group (be it American, conservatve, liberal, whatever) have more variance in views and other personality traits than the members of the outgroup.

This can lead to statements like "All Muslims are violent", "All Liberals are soft on immigration", etc. Note that liberals and progressives are not immune from this bias in their view of conservatives. You can probably think of examples from both sides.


First, this can often lead to increased use of stereotyping of the outgroup (All welfare recipients are lazy cheats). This can also use to using a small sample of exemplars to generalize to an entire group.

As an example, an acquaintance of mine said he offered a homeless man $25 an hour to come and clean up his yard. The man refused, and again asked for a handout. My acquaintance said that this showed that homeless bums are lazy and looking for a handout rather than just 'down on their luck'.

There are others, check this space for updates.

Spread this along to your friends. Rather than say "See, those rotten conservatives", have them realize the bias in logic and try to educate themselves and others.


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