Quick to Blame Others But Slow in Giving Credit Where It's Due: A New Study Gives the Explanation

Dec 08, 2015 11:30 AM EST | By Pao Uychiat


When faced with many difficult situations like arguments at home or in the office, many of us are guilty that it's very easy to blame others. A study said that negative results come from deliberate actions and positive results are just considered incidentals. We have to ask ourselves whether your boss is fast in putting the blame on others when things don't go as planned but very slow is giving credit where it's due.

According to Indian Express, there is a new research done by Duke University that helps explain why it is easy for people to be biased whenever there are negative situations and treat them as something intentional but when it comes to positive actions, they deem it intentional. The team of researchers found that people generally use different mechanisms to judge whether the action is intentional or not.

When the action resulted to a negative effect, the participants in the study were likely to draw the part of the brain that process the emotions which is the amygdale. For actions with positive result however, people relied more on the statistics and less on the emotions. This is what they measure, they checked how often people who are in different situations behave and react in similar ways, may it be negative or positive.

The example cited by the team was about a CEO who knew that the plan he approved could harm the environment. Despite knowing this would be the outcome, he still executed the plan in order to increase profit. In this situation, do you think the CEO did it to harm the environment intentionally? About 82 percent of the respondents said that the CEO deliberately did it. Then the researchers tried to change the word "harm" to "help" in the same scenario, and found that 23 percent of the respondents said that the action is intentional. In this example, the participants responded this way because of the fact that the CEO's aim in to earn money and helping the environment was just an unintentional effect.

Corresponding author professor Scott Huettel said, "There's no logical reason why we would call something intentional, just because it causes a bad outcome as opposed to a good outcome. Intentionality implies purpose on the part of the person, and that should be there for good as much as it is for bad. But it's not,"  

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