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Each week on Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, explore different aspects of human behavior and the brain.

Egocentric Bias: Why You Think You Invented the Internet, and Why You're Kinda Right

Have you ever worked with a group of people on a project and really felt like you carried the lion's share of the weight? And then you think back on it and realize you always do more, you always have the great idea, and you never get the recognition you rightfully deserve?

It might be that you are both the problem and the solution.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head,Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke talk about the psychology of egocentric bias. It can be pretty destructive, but not necessarily in ways we predict.

Why do we think we contribute more in a group situation than we actually do, and does it matter? It can matter a lot, and in a moment, I'll tell you why. But first, it's understandable that we think we do more than others, because we are closer to what we do.

We know all the times we took out the garbage, and we know we stayed up until 3 a.m. to finish the Power Point, when we assume Sally slept through the night. And we know which thoughts and ideas are ours. Or do we?

It turns out that although we think we remember things exactly as they happened, we never actually do. Our memories can recall certain elements of things, while others (especially where ideas originated) are mythologized into a singularity that most likely isn't accurate.

So why does it matter? It matters for two major reasons. One is that when it comes to compensation for the work we do and the ideas we have, it's helpful to assign tasks and acknowledge the work of others, so no one feels exploited or oppressed. 

The other reason it's important to recognize the work of everyone in the group is because if you don't, you could really be setting yourself up for failure. This is because if you're trying to accomplish goals or recreate successes, you might underestimate the impact other people have had on your own work.

It takes a lot of people to get things done. It takes a lot of ideas to come up with good ones. And besides — it's lonely at the top.

Rebecca McInroy is an award-winning show creator, host, and executive producer for KUT, KUTX, and KUT.ORG.
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