“Self-serving bias”, explains Wiki, “is a self-deception technique resorted to by people while attributing responsibility for causes of events. The self-serving bias makes an individual take credit for successes and blame external factors for failures (Weary-Bradley, 1978). The concept was introduced by Heider (1958). He said that in ambiguous situations, attributions are influenced by “a person’s needs or wishes. The self-serving bias is an approach to protect or enhance an individual’s self-concept (Campbell & Sedikides, 1999).”
“A classic example of self-serving bias is a student taking an examination. If the student does well on the test, he or she is more likely to believe that his or her own ability and/or effort (things under the student’s control) were the reasons for success. However, if he or she receives a poor grade on the test, the blame will fall on external factors such as luck, difficulty of the task, or uncooperative others (Campbell & Sedikides, 1999). For example he or she might claim “that the professor made up an unfair test or the student could claim that the lighting in the room was too dim so the student couldn’t focus.”
Another classic example is this statement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh:
“We have recorded a growth of 9% in the first four years of our government. Last year, because of the impact of global recession, the growth rate will be slightly less than 7%.”
Thanks to the self-serving bias, it never occurs to the PM that the rising tide in the global economy could have lifted all boats (including India’s) in the first four years. So, he believed that the measures taken by him were responsible for the 9% growth, whereas the decline in the last year was caused by downturn in global economy. He is not to be blamed for that.
Always, find that external factor to attribute blame on. Practise this technique. Don’t ever burden your conscience with guilt. Believe me; it will give you complete peace of mind.