Our brains are so wonderful in so many ways, but sometimes their strengths can be our weaknesses. From cutting corners to make fast decisions, to looking poorly on other people to keep our self-esteem up, there are lots of biased that, if we are aware of them, can help us treat others more kindly.
  1. Fundamental attribution error
    This is the most applicable thing I've ever learnt in psychology. Effectively, people tend to assume that other people's behaviour is due to their personality, but that their own is due to the situation. That guy cut their car in front of you because he's a dickhead, you did it because you forgot you had to turn soon. Pretty much, assume that any bad behaviour, really, might be due to circumstances and is not necessarily representative of who they are as a person.
  2. Lake Wobegong effect
    90% of people think they are above average. This is statistically impossible. If you think you are superior, reconsider. Obviously half of people are better than average in any given situation, but half are not. Don't think you're tops without actual evidence. (Google Lake Wobegong for the explanation behind this name!)
  3. Bystander effect
    The reluctance to aid in a situation. Especially if many people are around, and nobody else is helping, we feel like maybe they don't actually need help. If you're tossing up, feeling a bit awkward about offering assistance...remember that most people wouldn't, even in life threatening situations. Feeling awkward about misreading a situation is better than someone not getting help when they really need it.
  4. Misattribution of responsibility
    Doing terrible things, then claiming you were following orders. Obviously a quite serious example is the Nazis. But recently, my supervisor suggested I put an extra hour on my timesheet (so that he could too), and I felt weird about it, but felt like I couldn't tell him no. So I was going to do it. But then I thought, imagine if this were investigated and I was asked why I thought it was ok to effectively defraud the company. Could I say "but my supervisor told me to..."? No. Take responsibility
  5. Spotlight effect
    Overestimating the amount of attention we are receiving from others. So stop worrying about that giant pimple, or whether your nose is shaped funny. Chances are most people won't even notice. They're too busy feeling self-conscious about their own flaws.
  6. Halo Effect
    Attributing good qualities to someone because they're attractive. If you're judging someone without knowing them that well, consider whether their appearance might have anything to do with it