Action bias

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Action Bias ( German action tendency or action tendency ) referred to in the behavioral sciences , the tendency also to act active when the action expected to be useless, perhaps even harmful.

The Israeli ethologist Bar Eli were penalty situations in football evaluated. The shooters shoot statistically roughly equally to the left, right and in the middle, while the goalkeepers rarely stay in the middle, but almost always move to the right or left. They do this even though their chances of parrying the ball are as good or bad as staying in the middle of the goal. The chancenreduzierende in the sum of cases action is justified ( English action ) with the human tendency to preferentially active in a happening intervene than it is to pursue passive.

The impulse to intervene in situations that are developing in an unknown way with the aim of bringing them under control is generally more pronounced in younger people than in older people. A British study found that police officers deployed in pairs in a young-young combination intervene more quickly in situations and are more likely to be injured than a combination of a younger and an older police officer.

The origin of the human tendency to action bias is suspected to be in early human behavior, in which the speed of the reaction mattered above all in threatening situations, whereas in the present, deliberate, i.e. necessarily slower reactions - or no reaction at all - are often more successful.

The American physiologist Walter Cannon coined the term fight-or-flight (fight or flight) in 1915 . Both options for action imply action.

The Action Bias is related to the Omission Bias .


Rolf Dobelli wrote in his bestseller The Art of Clear Thinking :

“Is it [the Action Bias] the opposite of the Omission Bias? Not quite. Action bias comes into play when a situation is unclear, contradictory, opaque. Then we tend to be busy, even if there is no good reason for it. In the case of Omission Bias, the situation is usually clear: future damage could be averted by acting today, but averting damage does not motivate us as strongly as reason would.

Omission bias is very difficult to recognize - renouncing action is less visible than action. The 68 movement, you have to admit it, saw through it and fought it with a concise slogan: "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem."

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Rolf Dobelli in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (only printed edition) of July 4, 2011, p. 28: "Why you should wait much more often and drink tea"
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