The illusion of asymmetric insight is a cognitive bias whereby people perceive their knowledge of others to surpass other people’s knowledge of themselves. This bias seems to be due to the conviction that observed behaviors are more revealing of others than self, while private thoughts and feelings are more revealing of the self.

A study finds that people seem to believe that they know themselves better than their peers know themselves and that their social group knows and understands other social groups better than other social groups know them. For example: Person A knows Person A better than Person B knows Person B or Person A. This bias may be sustained by a few cognitive beliefs, including:

  • The personal conviction that observed behaviors are more revealing of other people than of the self, while private thoughts and feelings are more revealing of the self.
  • The more an individual perceives negative traits ascribed to someone else, the more doubt individuals express about this person’s self-knowledge. But, this doubt does not exist for our own self-knowledge. (For example: if Person A believes Person B has some great character flaw, Person A will distrust Person B’s self-knowledge, while sustaining that they do not hold that same flaw in self-knowledge.)

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