Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Overcoming our biases: Helping observers see both sides

Cynthia Sansing McPherson Frantz, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Observers to a conflict are heavily influenced by their liking for the people involved in the conflict. When the difference in liking for the people in conflict is large, this bias can prevent the observer from taking both perspectives, especially when motivated to be fair. Two studies investigated naive realism as a possible explanation for why the liking bias is so difficult to overcome. Naive realism is our tendency to overestimate the extent to which our own perceptions are an objective representation of reality. Study 1 provided support for the hypothesis that, consistent with naive realism, people believe their construals of a conflict are unbiased and objective. Even when liking was experimentally manipulated, people remained largely unaware of its biasing effects. Study 2 tested the efficacy of two new debiasing strategies designed to circumvent naive realism: Informing people about the liking bias, and asking people to generate alternate explanations for negative behaviors. As expected, informing people about the liking bias did not reduce bias. Contrary to expectations, neither did generating alternative explanations.

Subject Area

Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Frantz, Cynthia Sansing McPherson, "Overcoming our biases: Helping observers see both sides" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9978495.