Seeing the subjective as objective: People perceive the taste of those they disagree with as biased and wrong

Nathan N. Cheek, Shane F. Blackman, Emily Pronin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


People think that they see things as they are in “objective reality,” and they impute bias and other negative qualities to those who disagree. Evidence for these tendencies initially emerged in the domain of politics, where people tend to assume that there are objectively correct beliefs and positions. The present research shows that people are confident in the correctness of their views, and they negatively judge those who disagree, even in the seemingly “subjective” domain of art. Across seven experiments, participants evaluated paintings and encountered others who agreed or disagreed with their evaluations. Participants saw others' evaluations as less objective when they clashed with their own, and as more influenced by biasing factors like conformity or financial incentives. These aesthetic preferences felt as objective as political preferences. Reminding people of their belief that artistic preferences are “matters of opinion” reduced this thinking, but did not eliminate it. These findings suggest that people's convictions of their own objectivity are so powerful as to extend to domains that are typically regarded as “subjective.”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-182
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


  • art
  • attribution
  • bias blind spot
  • bias projection
  • disagreement
  • naïve realism
  • objectivity convictions
  • social influence


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