Exploring Causes of the Self-serving Bias



The self-serving bias refers to a tendency for people to take personal responsibility for their desirable outcomes yet externalize responsibility for their undesirable outcomes. We review a variety of explanations for this attribution bias. Although researchers have historically pitted cognitive and motivational explanations for the self-serving bias against one another, cognitive and motivation processes often work in tandem to lead people to conclude that they are responsible for the desirable but not the undesirable outcomes.