The Less Than Awesome Power of Expectations to Bias Perception, Memory, and Judgment

Lee Jussim

in Social Perception and Social Reality

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780195366600
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933044 | DOI:
The Less Than Awesome Power of Expectations to Bias Perception, Memory, and Judgment

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The chapter critically evaluates the conclusions often reached on the basis of the early research testifying to the power of expectations to bias perception, memory, and judgment. It leads off by walking through several real-world examples involving sports, academics, and the stock market, all of which strongly suggest that such biases are generally quite limited in daily life. It then revisits some of the early classic studies widely interpreted as demonstrating that large and dramatic expectancy-confirming biases generally (1) provided more evidence of accuracy or unbiased responding than of bias or (2) have never been replicated. After debunking the justifiability of testaments to the power of bias on the basis of these early classics, the chapter turns to meta-analyses of the wider literature—and shows that all meta-analyses assessing the effects of stereotypes or other expectancies on perception, judgment, and memory produce, on average, very small bias effects (averaging about r = .10). The inexorable conclusion is that the biasing effects of expectations on judgments are, in general, very small.

Keywords: bias; interpersonal expectancies; confirmatory biases; memory

Chapter.  12143 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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