The Flexible Correction Model: Bias Correction Guided by Naïve Theories of Bias



Psychological researchers have examined a broad array of biases and shortcomings of social perceivers. Less attention has been paid to how people react when they become concerned about the possibility of bias and attempt to correct or overcome the potential for bias. An early approach was to think of bias correction as “subtracting” information or reactions that are identified as coming from the biasing factor instead of the target. An alternative approach is to conceptualize bias correction as guided by social perceivers' naïve theories or perceptions of the bias at work. The subtraction theories were designed to deal with the assimilative biases typical of early priming experiments, but theory-based corrections can readily deal with either assimilative or contrastive biases. We describe both types of correction theories, with a focus on the empirical support for theory-based correction (and especially for the Flexible Correction Model). We also identify future directions for research on theory-based correction.