I and My Friends are Good People: The Perception of Incivility by Self, Friends and Strangers
Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany
Department of Human Resources Management, HEC, Montreal, Canada
University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel
Three studies were conducted to assess self-serving biases in participants’ beliefs about incivility, its antecedents and consequences as well as restitution behaviors and forgiveness as a function of whether a behavior was performed by themselves, strangers or friends. Participants who imagined themselves in the active role not only described their own behavior as more excusable, congruent with an actor-observer bias, but more importantly, they showed strong self-serving biases with regard to all their reactions to the situation – even though this leads to logical contradictions. This self-serving expectation generalized to friends and contrasted sharply with expectations for strangers, whose behaviors were described as logically consistent. The difference between what is expected from self and friends and what is expected from others may account for much of the popular moral outrage at incivility in various social realms.