Is there a word for only giving people you like the benefit of the doubt
July 31, 2017 9:22 AM   Subscribe

For example: Person A has a messy home so he's a slob (said of someone you don't know very well,could be from a race or class you're prejudiced against, but may very well be not), but Person B must be just going thru a rough time (said of someone you like or of a close friend or family member).

There are a trillion examples of this in daily life. Your friends are the victims who need sympathy; the outsiders are the bad guys. If the new girl messes up, she's no good and should probably get fired. If a long time coworker does the same thing, that's fine beause they've already proved themselves. If a customer does the same thing as your coworker buddy, they're a jerk but your coworker is not. If your brother is in a fight, it's the other guy's fault because you know and trust your brother and don't know much about the other guy (who may actually be awesome compared to your brother.)

I suppose this can be called tribalism, or "assuming the negative when you aren't familiar with and/or friendly with the person" (a long awkward phrase), which you would do generally for safety reasons (from an evolutionary perspective). Are there any more psychological or scientific words for this particular behavior or way of thinking?
posted by serena15221 to Science & Nature (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
This is probably part of the fundamental attribution error. The wikipedia article is a little confusing, but you might start a google search there. You can also look for "correspondence bias".
posted by brainmouse at 9:28 AM on July 31 [15 favorites]

Double standard.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:35 AM on July 31 [14 favorites]

Yep, definitely related to the fundamental attribution error, but that's more about self vs. non-self. Since we're talking about groups of people who are closer vs. further (in terms of how well we know/like them), then a perhaps a better fit is In-group favoritism, which precisely describes so many people would say e.g. their friend from college is a good person who just had a run of bad luck but that guy on the news is a bad person who made bad decisions (and how his friends would often say he's a good guy who had some tough circumstances, etc.).

Wikipedia article also mentions some biological mechanisms and implications, and mentions a few scientific studies honing in on Oxytocin.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:49 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]

The bias in which you create positive narratives to explain the behavior of people you already think positively about is sometimes called the Halo Effect.
posted by The Bellman at 10:00 AM on July 31 [6 favorites]

Confirmation bias?
posted by history is a weapon at 10:33 AM on July 31

There's a related standard joke about declension -- e.g., "I'm a scholar, you're a pedant, s/he is trivia-obsessed". That joke might have a name.
posted by clew at 10:39 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]

posted by corvine at 1:31 PM on July 31

I don't know the formal psychological phrase, but when used as a joke this is often referred to as "conjugating an irregular verb," or some variation on that.

Here's a previous AskMe with some additional links.
posted by yankeefog at 3:35 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]

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