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Why We Can’t Accurately Judge Our Friends’ Behavior

Update Date: Oct 10, 2013 09:42 AM EDT

We easily get influenced by personal feelings and opinions when it comes to taking decisions for our friends, a study affirms. According to the study, we evaluate our friends’ behaviour more positively and tend to ignore the actual performance on a series of tasks.

“In judging people we already know, we are more or less unable to ignore our previously established images of those people,” says Daniel Leising of Technische Universität Dresden in a press release.

The study that has been published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin examines how people evaluate the behavior of themselves, their friends and even strangers.

“This is one of the few studies that investigated judgments of people’s actual behavior,” Leising added.

For the study, Leising along with his colleagues considered two of their friends asking them to describe each other’s personalities. Later their response was recorded following a standardized, challenging situation in the lab. The questions ranged from a general knowledge question like “How high is Mount Everest?”. At the end, participants along with their friends and strangers evaluated the recorded videotapes, each about 90 seconds long.

“This way, we could compare different views on the exact same behaviors with one another,” Leising explained. “If different people watch the exact same videotapes but interpret them differently, then the different interpretations may not be rooted in what they just saw, but must be explained in terms of something else.”

After the research, they were able to predict how the participants would judge their friends’ behavior. The behavior was based on what they thought of thme in advance, even before watching their videotaped behavior.

“By statistically controlling for strangers’ ratings of the same behavior, we could show that there are two kinds of systematic bias in such behavior judgments,” Leising added.

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