Cognitive Bias and Social Desirability Bias in Essay

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  • Subject: Psychology
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Excerpt from Essay :

Cognitive bias and Social Desirability Bias in Research Study

Cognitive Bias

Exercise 1: Impact of cognitive biases on the research process.

Cognitive bias is an individual's tendency to base an opinion or decision on inconsistent perception or knowledge of research data. Cognitive bias may cause either a success or failure of a project. The nature of decisions by the researcher may contribute to the success or failure of the research project. A direct effect or impact is that, cognitive bias can cause significant negative impacts on the perception of projects risks. Cognitive bias has direct impacts on the research process, and it is easy to identify the impacts of cognitive bias based on the previous or past information applied in carrying out research. According to Haselton, Nettle and Andrews (2005:724-746), cognitive bias is an error in judgment caused by memory, societal ascription, and arithmetical errors. These errors are common to all individuals, and most tend to pursue conventional and evident trends.

Researchers develop cognitive biases for numerous reasons; to assists the memory in swift processing of information, for example, even when there invalidity of data collected. Most researchers dedicate a great deal of time in studying cognitive bias because of its significance in developing the human mind. It is also very important that a researcher understands and recognise cognitive bias in other people. If the researcher is capable of accounting for bias in evaluating situations when someone is retelling an event, the researcher stands a better position of developing accurate decisions based on facts, rather than illusions. Cognitive bias, therefore, becomes a powerful tool in decision-making process, especially while in groups because it helps a research skew out the perceptions of people and the world. Much focus happens when the researcher emphasizes on the significance of certain piece of information that is essential in making a decision. This increases the possibility of elevating the imprecision of predicting the usefulness of future results (Leggett, 2003, 561-575).

Quality research involves using new data and evaluating the reliability of the study to provide the outcome. This involves testing various assumptions and attempting to reproduce the outcome and having a follow-up on how it interrelates with the existing paradigm. This assists the researcher in developing evidence-based decisions and circumvent from significant challenges when depending on a certain piece of information. For instance, new information may appear different because of diverse regression to the mean. A relevant example would be a conversation with people in their early 30s and 40s basing their discussion about bullying at school. The researcher may not absolutely rely on this information in carrying out a research study, because these statements lack the wealth of evidence. These people fail to provide definite reasons behind the bullying, therefore, the researcher should never rely on such erroneous pseudoscientific statements (Leggett, 2003, 561-575).

However, the statements by the group might influence the researcher to include them in the research study. The researcher applies the bandwagon effect, in which the researcher relies and validates the information provided by all the group members. However, cognitive bias may affect the reliability and validity of the information provided because the group considers itself as the better and varied. In addition, cognitive bias makes the researcher rely on specific information with an assumption that every person thinks like him/her. This leads to a false consensus outcome, whereby a group of people erroneously believe that everyone believes on a similar when this is incorrect (Maryon & G.C., 2000, 79-103).

The researcher should also be aware of confirmation bias. This may have a negative effect on the overall data collected by the researcher. This bias explains the reason why people disregard the information that conflicts with their beliefs, and instead considers information that agrees with their culture and belief. Cognitive bias attributes behaviours to people's character, instead of social and environmental factors. In essence, cognitive biases bases its arguments on individual opinions and this becomes challenging to apply such a method in collecting data to use in a research project. In order for the researchers and the readers to understand the residual impacts, limiting misconceptions and mishandling of data. There are numerous types of data, and this term may be puzzling, related and specific to therapeutic specialty (Maryon & G.C., 2000, 79-103).

Exercise 2 -Social Desirability Bias and its impacts on research study

Social desirability bias is the trend of individuals to reject socially unattractive traits or personalities and to accept the socially attractive ones. Researchers acknowledge the significance of social desirable biases used in various study responses, such as, immigration, affirmative action and ethnic injustice. However, the impacts of social desirability covers even the social and political natters. For instance, Fisher, (1993; 303-315) asserted that social desirability biases both behavioural and outlook balances generally applicable in organizational behaviour study.

Research indicates that, social desirability may acutely bias social research data. For example, research illustrates that the middle class people may exhibit greater delight, mental health and inferior ethnic chauvinism in comparison to the working class individuals who tends to exhibit socially desirable reactions among the middle class population rather than showing exact differences. In a socially desirable trend, social desirability distorts the responses through various ways, for instance, through self-deception and other types of deceptions. An individual portrays a self-deception character, when such an individual believes on particular statements about him/her (Brewer, 1979, 307-324).

However, the information may be incorrect, and in some other aspects, deceptions occur when there is distortion of truth. However, most of the researchers may be reluctant to accept the negative behaviours or rather behaviours that conflict with socially accepted values. Social norms are significant factors of socially acceptable conduct. The legitimacy of social science research is a major issue within social desirability. For this reason, social desirability becomes barrier that prejudices the research outcome. In this case, respondents may falsify information on certain behaviours, for example, unlawful issues, personal hostility and abuse of drugs, which makes it impossible to research on responsive social issues (Fisher, 1993, 303-315).

Family research may become vulnerable to these challenges because of strong social values concerning what defines a good family, or parenting approach compared to unfavourable family practices, for instance, Child mistreatment or close partner violence. It is very important to control the effects caused by social desirability, because if we fail copying with the effects, the society may end up embracing unattractive values against its desires. These are some of the key methods used in copying with social desirability bias. Firstly, the identification and valuation of social desirability and the application of social desirability scale, and secondly, techniques used to thwart social desirability. The scales used in social desirability helps in detecting and measuring the social desirability impacts. Researchers that use social desirability scales can apply three approaches to manage social desirability bias. The first approach is to eliminate any data that illustrates a high scoring score; second approach is to gather data for respondents that demonstrates a high score and lastly is marking the effect of social desirability bias (Fisher, 1993, 303-315).

As much as these approaches limit the impacts of social responsibility, they bear disadvantages that affect the success of research study. In this context, social desirability bias affects the time a diverse group of part-time postgraduate masters students give to charity. The postgraduate students may hide their social personalities considering that they possess a higher respect in the society. Considering their educational level, they believe they possess a social recognition and, therefore, they may dislike the idea of spending much time with charity organizations. Middle class, underprivileged persons among others are associated with charity organizations and perhaps the masters' students may dislike the idea of any involvement with such groups/organizations (Fisher, 1993, 303-315).

For the first approach, the first effect is that, social…

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