What is it about?

Encountering rude behavior at work makes people more likely to depend on limited information in making subsequent judgements, a cognitive bias referred to as anchoring. Anchoring is one of the most robust and widespread cognitive biases, common in medical diagnoses, negotiations, legal settings, and the stock market.

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Why is it important?

The relationship between rudeness and anchoring is particularly problematic because biases in judgment are typically held with substantial confidence, and individuals are generally unaware of their influence on decision making. The findings provide the first evidence that everyday impoliteness can have serious, and even life-threatening consequences.


Though awareness of how we should treat each other in the workplace is increasing, we often think of outcomes in terms of good vs. bad performance. There is also the matter of what kind of how we make the decisions that guide our actions. Rudeness causes individuals to self-immerse in the situation, and focus on interpreting it, making sense of it, and understanding their own feelings related to that event. This process ends up backfiring by evoking strong emotions and depleting cognitive resources. By taking the perspective of another person, such as the person who is rude, we are more likely to realize the rude event isn't about us. That realization protects us from the negative consequences that follow.

Binyamin Cooper
Carnegie Mellon University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Trapped by a first hypothesis: How rudeness leads to anchoring., Journal of Applied Psychology, March 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/apl0000914.
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