What is Projection Bias – Definition & Examples in Recruitment

Projection Bias is the tendency to think that most other people think and reason like you do, because of something they say or do.

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What is projection bias?

The projection bias refers to a cognitive bias where individuals tend to overestimate the extent to which others share their opinions. This bias arises because people assume that others think, feel, believe, and behave similarly to themselves. 

As a result, they assume that their perspectives and actions are typical, and thus anticipate that others will react in a similar way. This phenomenon is comparable to the false consensus effect, where people similarly overestimate the level of agreement that others have with their viewpoints.

Why does projection bias happen?

Projection bias happens because people tend to use their own thoughts, beliefs, and behaviours as a basis for predicting and interpreting the thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors of others. This can lead to an overestimation of the degree to which others share our views.

Examples of projection bias

An example of projection bias is when a person assumes that everyone else enjoys the same types of movies that they do. They may think that a particular movie is excellent and assume that everyone else will feel the same way. 

However, in reality, other people may have different tastes and preferences, and they may not enjoy the movie as much as the person with projection bias.

Examples of projection bias in the hiring process

A recruiter or hiring manager may assume that a candidate shares their values or beliefs, and may evaluate the candidate based on this assumption, rather than on their qualifications or abilities. 

For example, if a recruiter values punctuality and organizational skills, they may favour candidates who demonstrate these traits, even if they are not relevant to the job.

The impact of projection bias on the hiring process

Projection bias can have a significant impact on the hiring process because it can lead to biased decisions that are not based on the qualifications or abilities of the candidates. This can result in qualified candidates being overlooked or rejected in favour of less qualified candidates who share the same background or experiences as the recruiter.

How to avoid projection bias

To minimize the effects of projection bias in the hiring process, it is essential to be aware of the bias and take steps to reduce its impact. This can include developing objective criteria for evaluating candidates, such as specific qualifications or skills required for the job, and using structured interview questions that are designed to assess those criteria. 

Additionally, involving multiple people in the hiring process, including individuals from diverse backgrounds, and can help to reduce the impact of projection bias by bringing different perspectives to the evaluation of candidates.

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