google-site-verification: google4283fb30fde0af74.html
top of page

Self Serving Bias

Part I:  Description

What is the Self-Serving Bias?

  • Definition: The self-serving bias is a common cognitive bias where people tend to attribute their successes to their own abilities and efforts, but blame their failures on external factors beyond their control.

  • Purpose: This bias helps protect our self-esteem and maintain a positive self-image.

  • Examples:

    • A student aces a test: "I'm so smart and studied hard."

    • A student fails a test: "The questions were unfair, and the teacher is terrible."

Why Understanding Self-Serving Bias Matters

  • Improved Self-Awareness: Recognizing this bias helps us take more balanced ownership of outcomes.

  • Better Relationships: It reduces blame and defensiveness in our interactions with others.

  • Fairer Decision-Making: Being aware of this bias helps mitigate unfair judgments or assessments of others.

Part II:  Common Questions

1. Is the self-serving bias always a bad thing?

Answer: While it can hinder self-improvement, the self-serving bias isn't inherently negative. It plays a role in maintaining our self-esteem and motivation. However, unchecked, it can lead to unfair judgments and hinder personal growth.

2. How does the self-serving bias impact relationships?

Answer: It can cause friction by constantly attributing positive outcomes to ourselves and negative ones to partners, friends, or colleagues. This blame-shifting can strain communication and erode trust.

3. Are there different forms of self-serving bias?

Answer: Yes! It can manifest in several ways:

  • Taking credit for success, denying responsibility for failure: The classic example.

  • Comparing ourselves favorably to others: To boost our self-image.

  • Exaggerating our positive qualities and minimizing flaws: Maintaining a positive perception of ourselves.

4. Can I overcome the self-serving bias?

Answer:  While it's a natural bias, you can mitigate its effects:

  • Practice mindfulness: Observe your thoughts and question your automatic attributions.

  • Cultivate perspective-taking: Consider other people's experiences and contributions.

  • Accept feedback: Be open to criticism and areas for improvement.

5. How is the self-serving bias studied?

Answer: Psychologists use various experimental methods:

  • Situational scenarios: Participants attribute outcomes based on hypothetical situations.

  • Attribution studies: Researchers analyze how people explain their own and others' behavior.

  • Observational research: Examining real-life examples of the bias in action.

Part III:  Additional Resources

Books about Self Serving Bias

"Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)" by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson: 

  • This engaging book explores cognitive dissonance, with extensive coverage dedicated to the self-serving bias and its consequences.

"Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman: 

  • A Nobel Prize-winning look at human judgment, including a section covering biases like the self-serving bias.

"The Social Animal" by Elliot Aronson: 

  • A classic social psychology text covering the self-serving bias as a mechanism for maintaining positive self-regard.

Online Articles and Websites about Self Serving Bias

  • The Decision Lab: Self-Serving Bias ( Offers a clear definition, examples, and explores how this bias affects our decision-making.

  • Verywell Mind: "Understanding the Self-Serving Bias" : Provides an overview with insights on how this bias develops.

  • Behavioral Scientist: Search for "Self-Serving Bias" ( This website often features articles on how this bias manifests in various aspects of life and decision-making.

Other Resources about Self Serving Bias

  • Psychology Podcasts: Search for episodes dedicated to cognitive biases, which often discuss the self-serving bias in depth.

  • TED Talks: Search for talks on biases, self-awareness, or critical thinking, as they might contain relevant examples and insights.

  • University Websites: Explore psychology departments of major universities. Many offer free articles and resources related to human behavior and biases.

  • Online Courses: Consider platforms like Coursera or Udemy for courses on behavioral psychology or decision-making, where self-serving bias is frequently discussed.

Part IV:  Disclaimer

These results were highly selected, curated, and edited by The Nexus Inititiative. To make this amount of complimentary content available at a cost-effective level for our site visitors and clients, we have to rely on, and use, resources like Google Gemini and other similar services.

bottom of page