Privileging Naturals Over Strivers: The Costs of the Naturalness Bias

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2016 Jan;42(1):40-53. doi: 10.1177/0146167215611638. Epub 2015 Oct 19.


A preference for "naturals" over "strivers" in performance judgments was investigated to test whether the effect is generalizable across domains, as well as to ascertain any costs imposed on decision quality by favoring naturals. Despite being presented with entrepreneurs equal in achievement, participants judged the natural and his business proposal to be superior to the striver and his proposal on multiple dimensions of performance and success (Study 1a and Study 1b). These findings were extended in Study 2, which quantified the costs of the naturalness bias using conjoint analysis to measure specific decision tradeoffs. Together, these three studies show that people tend to pass over better-qualified individuals in favor of apparent naturals.

Keywords: achievement; judgment and decision making; naturalness bias; social perception; striving; talent.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Decision Making*
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Male
  • Prejudice*
  • Young Adult