Accuracy, bias, self-fulfilling prophecies, and scientific self-correction

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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In my Précis of Social Perception and Social Reality (Jussim 2012, henceforth abbreviated as SPSR), I argued that the social science scholarship on social perception and interpersonal expectancies was characterized by a tripartite pattern: (1) Errors, biases, and self-fulfilling prophecies in person perception were generally weak, fragile, and fleeting; (2) Social perceptions were often quite accurate; and (3) Conclusions appearing throughout the social psychology scientific literature routinely overstated the power and pervasiveness of expectancy effects, and ignored evidence of accuracy. Most commentators concurred with the validity of these conclusions. Two, however, strongly disagreed with the conclusion that the evidence consistently has shown that stereotypes are moderately to highly accurate. Several others, while agreeing with most of the specifics, also suggested that those arguments did not necessarily apply to contexts outside of those covered in SPSR. In this response, I consider all these aspects: the limitations to the tripartite pattern, the role of politics and confirmation biases in distorting scientific conclusions, common obstructions to effective scientific self-correction, and how to limit them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere18
JournalBehavioral and Brain Sciences
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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