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  • Clearer Thinking Team

Self-Serving Bias: Definition, Examples, and Effects

Updated: Jun 2

Self-serving bias is a cognitive bias that causes people to attribute their successes to their own abilities and efforts, while attributing their failures to external factors. It is a form of self-enhancement that allows people to maintain a positive self-image. This bias can have both positive and negative effects on an individual’s life.

Examples: Self-serving bias can be seen in many everyday situations. For example, when someone receives a good grade on a test, they may attribute it to their own hard work and intelligence. On the other hand, if they receive a bad grade, they may blame it on the difficulty of the test or the teacher’s unfair grading system. Similarly, when someone wins a game, they may attribute it to their own skill, while if they lose, they may blame it on bad luck.

Effects: Self-serving bias can have both positive and negative effects on an individual’s life. On the positive side, it can help people maintain a positive self-image and boost their confidence. On the other hand, it can lead to an inflated sense of self-importance and an unwillingness to accept responsibility for mistakes. Additionally, it can lead to a distorted view of reality, as people may be unable to accurately assess their own abilities and performance.

Do you want to expand your knowledge on this topic? Read our full in-depth article on cognitive biases.

Do you have extra 15 minutes today? Take our fun and interactive quiz to learn which of 16 reasoning styles you use, your overall level of rationality, and what you can do now to improve your rationality skills.

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