Call for Papers
Mind & Society
Special Issue: "Adaptive Biases in the Wild"
Deadline: 31 August 2024
Contemporary academic and lay notions of bias are mostly negative: people "suffer" from biases and need to be "debiased". Indeed, to call someone "biased" is typically meant as a criticism or even accusation. Yet, a bias is, first of all, "just" a systematic deviation from a norm or standard. As such, bias can, in principle, have negative, neutral (i.e., a tendency), and also positive meanings and consequences – depending on the norm and the direction of the deviation from the norm. However, this more nuanced and balanced view of bias has largely been lost in current discourse. <o:p></o:p>
The prevailing negative view of bias stems to a large extent from lab experimental demonstrations of systematic violations of norms of internal coherence such as logic, probability theory, and expected utility theory. A unique aspect of these norms is that any deviation from the norm is a bias in the pejorative sense because the norm is taken as the gold standard. Thus, by definition, it is not possible in these study designs to be biased in a way that has a neutral or positive meaning. <o:p></o:p>
The idea that biases can be adaptive is more common in, but not limited to, an evolutionary perspective: numerous biases – in the sense of tendencies to attend, perceive, infer, learn, feel, act – have evolved as efficient and sometimes life-saving adaptations to the environment. For example, humans have a strong bias to feel disgusted by food that they got sick from, much more than they have a tendency to love food that was good for them. A bias for sure, but a very useful one. Biases can also be adaptive to our human-made environment. For example, in most countries, the legal system is, for good reasons, quite heavily biased to assume innocence until proven guilty.
In this special issue, we want to provide space for the exploration of adaptive biases. Given the journal pages devoted to negative depictions of biases, this may appear like a drop of water in the ocean of the bias literature. However, we hope that like a drop dilutes and spreads through the ocean, the papers in this special issue will make the kind of interesting, important, thought-provoking, and perhaps even provocative contributions that will impact how biases are seen not only in psychology but in disciplines such as management, leadership, organizational studies, political science, and others.
Scope and Topic
Papers submitted to this special issue should address important research questions in the domain of adaptive biases. We particularly seek manuscripts that shed light on important ongoing debates, examine adaptive biases in real-world contexts such as management, organizations, leadership, law, or society in general, or open up promising directions for future research. Papers can take different approaches to adaptiveness and are not limited to an evolutionary perspective. We are open to submissions including quantitative and qualitative studies, and inductive and deductive approaches. While we anticipate most published papers to make empirical contributions, we will also consider conceptual papers that address important research questions and make significant theoretical contributions.
An illustrative, but not exhaustive list of topics that fall within the scope of this special issue is provided below:
1. Adaptive biases have mostly been empirically examined in psychology such as the psychology of perception. What are important adaptive biases in more applied contexts, "in the wild", such as in organizations, business, law, society? What makes these biases adaptive and when are they adaptive? What are the boundary conditions for these biases to be adaptive?
2. Multi-objective view on adaptive biases: When and which biases can be both adaptive and mal-adaptive at the same time, for instance, leading to positive individual but negative group or societal consequences? What are the implications? Do people recognize potentially contradictory consequences of some biases?
3. Adaptive biases are often viewed from an evolutionary perspective. Beyond that, what is the role of culture in adaptive biases? For example, would a certain process or outcome be considered an adaptive bias in one culture but a maladaptive bias in another culture?
4. Related, what other factors, beyond evolution (and culture) influence the adaptiveness of biases? What is the role, in particular, of human-made environments, including legal, political, social, economic, and other institutional environments in shaping adaptiveness of biases?
5. What is the relation between heuristics and adaptive biases? For example, are adaptive biases necessarily the result of (evolved) heuristics? Or can they be the result of deliberate analysis?
6. Bias can refer both to a process and an outcome. What is the relation between process and outcome bias specifically in relation to adaptiveness? For example, can an adaptively biased process lead to a mal- or non-adaptive outcome? And can an adaptive outcome result from a mal- or non-adaptive process?
7. Existing research on adaptive biases has tended to be conducted at the individual level of one organism or agent. What about adaptive biases at the level of teams or organizations? Here, particularly interesting would be examinations of biases that emerge only at the team or organizational level, driven by individual, team, or organizational processes. In other words, adaptive biases that require teams or organizations.
8. We welcome outstanding methodological papers that make important contributions to the measurement of biases and their adaptiveness, as well as their antecedents, consequences, moderators, and mediators.
9. We welcome outstanding conceptual papers that make important contributions to our understanding of biases and their adaptiveness.
10. We welcome outstanding practical contributions that making important contributions to how adaptive biases and be encouraged, disseminated, taught, and implemented.
Jochen Reb, Singapore Management University
Natalia Karelaia, INSEAD
Tomás Lejarraga, Universitat de les Illes Balears
Papers submitted to the special issue will follow the standard peer review procedure for Mind & Society.
All papers must be submitted by August 31, 2024. Please select the correct special issue when submitting your paper.
If you have questions about this special issue, you may contact the guest editors at firstname.lastname@example.org (Jochen Reb), email@example.com (Natalia Karelaia), or firstname.lastname@example.org (Tomás Lejarraga).