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The Dynamic Relationship Between Accuracy and Bias in Social Perception Research


Correspondence address: Psychology, New York University, NY 10003, USA. Email:


How do perceivers make accurate social judgments? A substantial amount of evidence suggests that perceivers' judgments are often quite accurate even when they do not have direct access to the truth, in part because they make judgments through biased processes. In the present article, we examine the dynamic relationship between bias and accuracy in social perception research. We outline how bias and accuracy are theoretically and empirically distinct processes and describe the importance (and difficulty) of defining and measuring both truth variables and bias variables in order to make empirical conclusions in accuracy research. Additionally, we examine how both bias variables (e.g., stereotypes, perceivers' own beliefs) and truth variables exert an influence on how perceivers make social judgments, as well as the extent to which judgments are accurate. Lastly, we provide steps that researchers can take in order to examine the relationship between bias and accuracy in their own research.