Article

Maybe Holier, But Definitely Less Evil, Than You: Bounded Self-Righteousness in Social Judgment

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Abstract

Few biases in human judgment are easier to demonstrate than self-righteousness: the tendency to believe one is more moral than others. Existing research, however, has overlooked an important ambiguity in evaluations of one’s own and others’ moral behavior that could lead to an overly simplistic characterization of self-righteousness. In particular, moral behavior spans a broad spectrum ranging from doing good to doing bad. Self-righteousness could indicate believing that one is more likely to do good than others, less likely to do bad, or both. Based on cognitive and motivational mechanisms, we predicted an asymmetry in the degree of self-righteousness such that it would be larger when considering unethical actions (doing bad) than when considering ethical actions (doing good). A series of experiments confirmed this prediction. A final experiment suggests that this asymmetry is partly produced by the difference in perspectives that people adopt when evaluating themselves and others (Experiment 8). These results all suggest a bounded sense of self-righteousness. Believing one “less evil than thou” seems more reliable than believing one is “holier than thou.”

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... Self-other discrepancies are quite general, appearing not only in beliefs about abstract traits and abilities but also in predictions of specific behavior (Epley & Dunning, 2000). For example, previous studies have consistently reported the better-than-average effect, wherein people see themselves as more ethical, more competent, and more intelligent than others (Alicke, Klotz, Breitenbecher, Yurak, & Vredenburg, 1995;Epley & Dunning, 2000;Klein & Epley, 2016), and the bias blind spot, where people tend to see bias in others while being blind to it in themselves (Pronin & Kugler, 2007). A widely accepted account of these self-other discrepancies is that people tend to perceive themselves via introspective information and others via observable information (Pronin, 2008). ...
... Existing empirical studies examining self-other discrepancies in moral judgment are mostly related to evaluating moral or immoral behaviors (Allison, Messick, & Goethals, 1989;Epley & Dunning, 2000;Klein & Epley, 2016;Tasimi & Johnson, 2015). For example, Epley and Dunning (2000) found that people believe they are more likely to engage in selfless, kind, and generous behaviors than their peers. ...
... For example, Epley and Dunning (2000) found that people believe they are more likely to engage in selfless, kind, and generous behaviors than their peers. Klein and Epley (2016) found that when considering relatively immoral actions participants consistently believed they would behave more ethically than others. ...
Article
The question of how we decide that someone else has done something wrong is at the heart of moral psychology. Little work has been done to investigate whether people believe that others’ moral judgment differs from their own in moral dilemmas. We conducted four experiments using various measures and diverse samples to demonstrate the self–other discrepancy in moral judgment. We found that (a) people were more deontological when they made moral judgments themselves than when they judged a stranger (Studies 1-4) and (b) a protected values (PVs) account outperformed an emotion account and a construal-level theory account in explaining this self–other discrepancy (Studies 3 and 4). We argued that the self–other discrepancy in moral judgment may serve as a protective mechanism co-evolving alongside the social exchange mechanism and may contribute to better understanding the obstacles preventing people from cooperation. © 2019 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.
... Recent studies suggest the correspondence bias is more pronounced when judging behaviors that have a negative moral connotation; we regard ourselves as less likely to engage in "bad" behavior than others (Klein & Epley, 2016). Such errors in judgment may be adaptive in enabling us to maintain a positive self-concept and may contribute to our feelings of 'unrealistic optimism' about our own susceptibility to negative consequences in comparison to others (Shepperd et al., 2013). ...
... Such errors in judgment may be adaptive in enabling us to maintain a positive self-concept and may contribute to our feelings of 'unrealistic optimism' about our own susceptibility to negative consequences in comparison to others (Shepperd et al., 2013). As Klein & Epley (2016) highlight, the problem with believing one is less likely to succumb to bad behavior is that one may not take adequate precautions. When considering drinking, this may have serious consequences, for example failure to plan to get home safely or having unplanned, unprotected sex. ...
... If individuals view themselves as drinking less and behaving better than others when they drink, then it follows that they may not see themselves a target for such interventions. In line with Klein & Epley's (2016) assertion, perhaps those who judged their drinking as less problematic may take fewer precautions against adverse consequences as they do not believe themselves to be at risk. ...
Article
Background: Excessive drinking is commonplace at UK Universities. Individuals may misperceive how much they drink compared to others and are less likely to think that they will suffer adverse consequences. Young people often distance themselves and their friends from ‘problem drinkers’. Objectives: The aim of the study was to explore how student drinkers compared their own drinking behaviours to the drinking behaviours of others. Methods: An online survey was completed by 416 students aged 18-30 (68.5% female). They were asked ‘how do you think your drinking compares with other people like you?’ and ‘how do you think your behaviour when you drink compares with other people like you?’ Answers were subjected to thematic analysis. Results: The first main theme was about ‘identification as a ‘good’ drinker’. Participants suggested their own behaviour when drinking was similar to their sober behaviour. Further, they viewed themselves as more able to maintain a balance between staying in control and having fun while drinking. The second main theme was about ‘distancing from being a ‘bad’ drinker. Participants distanced themselves from negative prototypical drinkers, such compulsive or anti-social drinkers. They also attributed their own drinking behaviours to situational factors, but described other people as intentionally violent or aggressive. Conclusions/Importance: These findings may explain the failure of some health messages to change drinking behaviours. If drinkers perceive that their behaviour when they drink is better than other people’s then they may discount intervention messages. Targeting these biases could be incorporated into future interventions.
... It has been speculated that the self-protection motive is stronger than the self-enhancement motive in the context of morality, contrary to the prevailing view that the self-enhancement motive dominates the BTAE (El-Alayli & Wynne, 2015; Lee, 2012;Zell et al., 2019). This belief originated from a moral judgment study that found that people were more likely to report not engaging in immoral behavior compared to engaging in moral behavior (Klein & Epley, 2016). This asymmetry indicated that the self-protection motive was stronger than the selfenhancement motive in the context of morality. ...
... First, we independently examine the BTAE in four domains (i.e., positive morality, negative morality, positive competence, and negative competence). Although earlier studies reported that the BTAE is dissociable according to social values and motives (Sedikides et al., 2015;Tappin & McKay, 2017), we assumed that the BTAE would be detected in all domains except for positive morality, in accordance with an earlier moral judgment study, that demonstrated distinct effects of motivation on social values (Klein & Epley, 2016), or the BTAE would be present in four domains based on social perception studies showing the general dominance of the self-enhancement motive (Tappin & McKay, 2017). Second, we examined whether the moral BTAE is uniquely prevalent in the context of both self-protective and self-enhancement motives, i.e. has no association with a large number of psycho-behavioral characteristics. ...
... Our results are consistent with an earlier moral judgment study (Klein & Epley, 2016) that found the BTAE in the context of the self-protection motive in the moral domain, rather than the self-enhancement motive; however, the results appear to contradict a recent metaanalysis (Zell et al., 2019). This can be reconciled through careful consideration of the data. ...
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People tend to perceive themselves in a positive light. Typically, they believe themselves to be better than average in accordance with the better-than-average effect (BTAE). The BTAE has been examined with respect to social values (morality and competence) and motivations (self-enhancement and self-protection). Moreover, “competence BTAE” was found to be associated with personality traits while “moral BTAE” was not. However, it is not known whether the BTAE in four domains correlate with certain psycho-behavioral characteristics, particularly moral BTAE. In this study, we recruited 667 Japanese participants (302 males; mean age = 25.80 ± 2.80 years) to assess self- and average other-evaluations in four domains. Self-enhancement and self-protective motives were examined using positive and negative adjectives. We further explored the relationship between BTAE and 22 psycho-behavioral characteristics. The results revealed that moral BTAE only existed in the presence of the self-protection motive. A worse-than-average effect was found in the context of both motives for competence. In contrast to the BTAE in the other three domains, which showed correlations with various characteristics, “negative moral BTAE” was not associated with any psycho-behavioral characteristic. Our results demonstrated that moral BTAE existed only in the presence of the self-protection motive and was “uniquely prevalent”, i.e., was not associated with any psycho-behavioral characteristics. Thus, the psychological mechanisms underlying the negative moral BTAE may differ from the other three domains, potentially reflecting different sociocultural dynamics.
... Credibly establishing the robustness of a scientific result, especially one that modifies a long-held view, requires independent replications using a wide range of stimuli (Open Science Collaboration, 2015;Simmons, Nelson, & Simonsohn, 2011;Wells & Windschitl, 1999). With the exception of one experiment measuring recall of ethical behaviors, Klein and Epley (2016) demonstrated bounded self-righteousness mainly in people's predictions of future behavior. However, a growing body of research finds important differences between how people make moral judgments about the future versus the present or past (e.g., Caruso, 2010;Caruso, Van Boven, Chin, & Ward, 2013). ...
... In particular, the future tends to seem more uncertain than the past, tends to feel psychologically closer, and tends to focus more on intentions. Any of these differences, or other idiosyncratic features of behavioral predictions, could have contributed to the results of Klein and Epley (2016). If bounded self-righteousness is robust, then similar results should occur in a variety of measures of moral superiority. ...
... In all other experiments, sample sizes were determined to allow for at least 50 participants in each experimental cell. These sample sizes are comparable with those used in previous research (Klein & Epley, 2016), allowing for adequate statistical power to detect the hypothesized effects. ...
Article
Recent research suggests that self-righteousness is bounded, arising more reliably in evaluations of immoral actions than in evaluations of moral actions. Here, we test four implications of this asymmetry in self-righteousness and the mechanism explaining it. We find that people are less likely to make negative character inferences from their own unethical behavior than from others’ unethical behavior (Experiment 1), believe they would feel worse after an unethical action than others (Experiment 2), and believe they are less capable of extreme unethical behavior than others (Experiment 3). We observe weaker self–other differences in evaluations of ethical actions. This occurs partly because people base evaluations of themselves on their own moral intentions, leading to predictable individual differences. People more likely to ascribe cynical motives to their own behavior exhibit a smaller asymmetry in self-righteousness (Experiment 4). Self-righteousness seems better characterized as feeling “less evil than thou” than feeling “holier than thou.”
... Consistent with this hypothesis, recent evidence suggests that "self- righteousness" -manifested in, for example, the average person rating themselves morally superior to the average person (Tappin & McKay, 2017) -are greater for immoral than moral stimuli (Klein & Epley, 2016. Relatedly, the correlation between individuals' life satisfaction and their self-perception is reportedly stronger if the latter is computed as the distance between individuals' "real" and "undesired" selves vs. between their "real" and "desired" selves (Ogilvie, 1987). ...
... Baumeister et al., 2001). This is surprising, given that immoral stimuli appear to weigh more heavily in social perception and judgment than moral stimuli (Klein & Epley, 2016, and, in addition, that prescriptive morality is perceived as more mandatory and strict than proscriptive morality (Janoff- Bulman et al., 2009). ...
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Prosociality is fundamental to the success of human social life, and, accordingly, much research has attempted to explain human prosocial behavior. Capraro and Rand (2018) recently advanced the hypothesis that prosocial behavior in anonymous, one-shot interactions is not driven by outcome-based social preferences for equity or efficiency, as classically assumed, but by a generalized morality preference for "doing the right thing". Here we argue that the key experiments reported in Capraro and Rand (2018) comprise prominent methodological confounds and open questions that bear on influential psychological theory. Specifically, their design confounds: (i) preferences for efficiency with self-interest; and (ii) preferences for action with preferences for morality. Furthermore, their design fails to dissociate the preference to do "good" from the preference to avoid doing "bad". We thus designed and conducted a preregistered, refined and extended test of the morality preference hypothesis (N=801). Consistent with this hypothesis and the results of Capraro and Rand (2018), our findings indicate that prosocial behavior in anonymous, one-shot interactions is driven by a preference for doing the morally right thing. Inconsistent with influential psychological theory, however, our results suggest the preference to do "good" is as potent as the preference to avoid doing "bad" in prosocial choice.
... This is an instance of the more general gap between actors and observers. Whereas actors know their own intentions and motives, targets and observers must infer those intentions from actors' judgments and behavior (Epley & Dunning, 2000;Gilbert & Malone, 1995;Klein & Epley, 2016;Klein & O'Brien, 2017;Koehler & Poon, 2006;Pronin, 2009). Lacking a more reliable signal, targets and observers may therefore rely on a perspective taker's assessment of their emotional response as a way of inferring the perspective taker's effort and empathy. ...
... For example, a husband who causes distress to his wife and then underestimates how much distress he caused may be especially galling to the wife compared to a husband who underestimates distress unrelated to himself. Interestingly, existing research suggests that people experience their own intentions as positive even while their behavior causes harm to others (Klein & Epley, 2016;Swann & Bosson, 2010). Thus, perspective takers who cause targets to experience negative feelings may experience their own actions more positively than targets do, and therefore may be especially likely to underestimate the negative feeling they themselves have caused. ...
... This leaves important questions unanswered: Is it the case that, just as actors find their worse misdeeds less diagnostic than do yoked observers (Preuss & Alicke, 2017), they also find their best deeds more diagnostic? Or could it be that, as recent research (Klein & Epley, 2016 suggests, self-other differences are more pronounced for negative versus positive information? Our results provide answers to these questions, as we shall now explain. ...
... As predicted by a motivational account, people give less weight to past behaviors that were negative rather than positive for the self, whereas this tendency is weak or even absent for others. And we found these self-other differences in people's weighing of past behavior to be stronger for negative versus positive behaviors, which is consistent with recent research in social psychology where people are shown to feel morally superior to others particularly for immoral domains, and not so much for virtuous ones (Klein & Epley, 2016. Second, our results contribute to a more nuanced perspective on people's self-enhancement and -protection: Rather than being mere self-enhancers who seek to remember desirable past actions, but distort or even dismiss memories of undesirable past actions, this motivated weighing of past behaviors enables people to engage in self-enhancement and self-criticism simultaneously (Preuss & Alicke, 2017;Ross & Wilson, 2002). ...
Article
In three studies, this research found evidence for self-serving tendencies and a self–other asymmetry in the way people ascribe meaning to past behavior: Participants saw their past good deeds as more revealing of their present self than their past bad deeds (Studies 1–2), and they made infer-ences about their present personality from positive past behaviors, but not from negative ones (Study 3). In contrast, participants perceived the past behavior of others as diagnostic of their present personality (Study 2), and they made inferences about others’ present traits from that behavior (Study 3), regardless of whether it was positive or negative. In support of a moti-vational account, we also found evidence for moderated mediation of our effect (Study 2), such that the valence effect on ascribing meaning to the past was mediated by desirability only when self-relevance was high (i.e., for the self), not when it was low (i.e., for others). Implications of this self–other asymmetry are discussed.
... We expect morality to play a similarly dominant role in perception and evaluation of one's self. Consistent with this idea, a robust body of evidence indicates that people are quite motivated to perceive themselves as moral (Jordan, Mullen, & Murnighan, 2011;Klein & Epley, 2016;Prentice, Jayawickreme, Hawkins, Hartley, Furr, & Fleeson, 2019;Stanley, Henne, Iyengar, Sinnott-Armstrong & Brigard, 2017;Merritt, Effron, & Monin, 2010;Tenbrunsel, Diekmann, Wade-Benzoni, & Bazerman, 2010), suggesting that morality is a valued component of the self and an impactful component of identity (Aquino & Reed, 2002;McFerran, Aquino, & Duffy, 2010;Reed & Aquino, 2003;Winterich, Mittal, & Ross, 2009;Wojciszke, Baryla, Parzuchowski, Szymkow, & Abele, 2011). ...
... They overestimate or over-report the morality of their past behavior and make similarly sunny and inaccurate predictions for their future behavior (Tenbrunsel et al., 2010). People also tend to claim that they are more moral than othersspecifically, that they themselves are less likely to engage in immoral behaviors than others are (Klein & Epley, 2016). When people do acknowledge moral transgressions, they do not think those transgression were as bad as those committed by others (Stanley et al., 2017). ...
Preprint
Moralized attitudes are the attitudes that people construe as matters of right and wrong. In this study, we examine how moralized attitudes influence how people perceive and evaluate themselves using the Attitudes, Identities, and Individual Differences (AIID) dataset—a survey of over 200,000 individuals asked to report their attitudes in one of 95 domains. In exploratory analyses of a subset of the AIID dataset, we found that the specific attitudes that people moralize differ greatly from individual to individual, and that moralized attitudes are more central to one’s identity than non-moralized attitudes. We also found tentative evidence that participants reported lowered feelings of self-worth when they experienced mental conflict between attitudes that were central to their identity and their gut feelings toward the objects of those attitudes. With future access to the remainder of the AIID dataset, we will conduct confirmatory analyses that put these findings together. Do people experience lower self-esteem when their moralized attitudes and gut feelings are in conflict? If so, is that because of moralized attitudes’ identity centrality? Our findings will clarify the role that morality plays in self-perception and whether people think less of themselves when they fall short of the people they aspire to be.
... This may reflect the general asymmetry in people's perception of others and themselves documented in empirical research. It has been found that people tend to believe that, compared with others, they possess better attributes in various domains [14], have greater potential in the future [15], are less likely to experience negative events [16], and are more moral [17,18] and less self-interested [19]. People also tend to believe that they see the world as it is whereas the divergent views of others reflect bias or a lack of objectivity [20,21]. ...
... This bias in bias recognition was evident regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, and education. The view of others being vulnerable and the self being immune to the biasing influences of preexisting beliefs and social stigmas is consistent with the general asymmetry in people's perception of self and others [14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22]. It may further reflect a metacognitive bias in which people exhibit deficiency in self-awareness, self-monitoring, or self-regulation when they apply their knowledge about biases to understand others' and their own thoughts and behaviors in everyday situations [33,34]. ...
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Biases perpetuate when people think that they are innocent whereas others are guilty of biases. We examined whether people would detect biased thinking and behavior in others but not themselves as influenced by preexisting beliefs (myside bias) and social stigmas (social biases). The results of three large studies showed that, across demographic groups, participants attributed more biases to others than to themselves and that this self-other asymmetry was particularly salient among those who hold strong beliefs about the existence of biases (Study 1 and Study 2). The self-other asymmetry in bias recognition dissipated when participants made simultaneous predictions about others’ and their own thoughts and behaviors (Study 3). People thus exhibit bias in bias recognition and this metacognitive bias may be remedied by highlighting to people that we are all susceptible to biasing influences.
... This may reflect the general asymmetry in people's perception of others and themselves documented in empirical research. It has been found that people tend to believe that, compared with others, they possess better attributes in various domains [14], have greater potential in the future [15], are less likely to experience negative events [16], and are more moral [17,18] and less self-interested [19]. People also tend to believe that they see the world as it is whereas the divergent views of others reflect bias or a lack of objectivity [20,21]. ...
... This bias in bias recognition was evident regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, and education. The view of others being vulnerable and the self being immune to the biasing influences of preexisting beliefs and social stigmas is consistent with the general asymmetry in people's perception of self and others [14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22]. It may further reflect a metacognitive bias in which people exhibit deficiency in self-awareness, self-monitoring, or self-regulation when they apply their knowledge about biases to understand others' and their own thoughts and behaviors in everyday situations [33,34]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Biases perpetuate when people think that they are innocent whereas others are guilty of biases. We examined whether people would detect biased thinking and behavior in others but not themselves as influenced by preexisting beliefs (myside bias) and social stigmas (social biases). The results of three large studies showed that, across demographic groups, participants attributed more biases to others than to themselves, and that this self-other asymmetry was particularly salient among those who hold strong beliefs about the existence of biases (Study 1 and Study 2). The self-other asymmetry in bias recognition dissipated when participants made simultaneous predictions about others' and their own thoughts and behaviors (Study 3). People thus exhibit bias in bias recognition, and this metacognitive bias may be remedied when it is highlighted to people that we are all susceptible to biasing influences.
... Thus, we expect intuitive theories of human nature to take situational features (who are the people, what are they trying to do, what pressures do they face) as their input, and deliver situation-specific inferences about how people will behave and what means might be needed to regulate their behaviour. We distinguish our approach from that of previous work on intuitions about other people's moral behaviour (Klein & Epley, 2016). That work has shown people to be generally pessimistic about the moral behaviour of others (relative to themselves). ...
... The uniformly lower level of expected moral behaviour in all other circumstances suggests a default pessimism about the morality of others, one that can be overridden by particularly benign circumstances. Thus, our findings go beyond the previous generalization that people are pessimistic about the moral behaviour of others (Klein & Epley, 2016). Rather, the intuitive theory predicts selfishness and amorality to be substantial at baseline, but for morality to increase when people are surrounded by their own kind, free from the trouble of war or the existential threat of starvation. ...
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How do people arrive at their opinions regarding how society should be governed? We suggest people possess an intuitive theory of human nature. The function of this theory is to predict how strangers will behave in particular classes of situation, and suggest what kinds of institutions and interventions are required to make society function under those circumstances. Across four within-subjects experiments with 750 UK adult participants, we show that the intuitive theory of human nature is fundamentally situation-sensitive. Our participants intuited that conditions of war, scarcity or cultural heterogeneity would increase selfishness and immorality from a subgroup of the population, and that this would undermine the provision of public goods. Rational argument would be become less effective under such circumstances, and punishment more effective; hence, respondents more strongly favoured coercive authoritarian leaders under these conditions compared to peace or abundance. Using World Values Survey data from 55 countries, we detect real-world patterns consistent with these principles: both within and between countries, the more respondents are concerned about the collective threat of war, the more pessimistic their assessment of the moral dependability of their co-citizens, and the stronger their endorsement of authoritarian forms of government.
... We propose that our hypothesized effect is more specifically rooted in people's lack of access to others' mental processes. People are able to directly observe others' behaviors but they cannot directly observe others' feelings, motivations, and internal psychological states (Epley & Dunning, 2000;Gilbert & Malone, 1995;Klein & Epley, 2016;Koehler & Poon, 2006;O'Brien, 2015;Pronin & Kugler, 2007). Hence, people can more easily and readily infer others' internal states from the observable behaviors they commit rather than avoid. ...
... This is directly evidenced by our writers in Experiments 3 and 4, who spontaneously described the hard work and effort that they indeed had been exerting to maintain their positive states. In daily life, however, observers rarely have access to this private information and are left to judge others only by surface-level features (Epley & Dunning, 2000;Gilbert & Malone, 1995;Klein & Epley, 2016;O'Brien, 2015). Therefore, observers' "default" assumptions about change and stability (lacking sufficient knowledge of a person's life experiences behind the scenes) likely reflect an overgeneralized heuristic-valid in many cases, but unwittingly applied to others even when it is a poor approximation of reality (Baron, 1990). ...
Article
Observing other people improve their lives can be a powerful source of inspiration. Eight experiments explore the power, limits, and reasons for this power of personal change to inspire. We find that people who have improved from undesirable pasts (e.g., people who used to abuse extreme drugs but no longer do) are more inspiring than people who maintain consistently desirable standings (e.g., people who have never used extreme drugs to begin with), because change is perceived as more effortful than stability (Experiments 1a and 1b). The inspirational power of personal change is rooted in people’s lack of access to the internal struggles and hard work that many others may endure to successfully remain ‘always-good.’ Accordingly, giving observers access into the effort underlying others’ success in maintaining consistently positive standings restores the inspiring power of being ‘always-good’ (Experiments 2–4). Finally, change is more inspiring than stability across many domains but one: people who used to harm others but have since reformed (e.g., ex-bullies or ex-cheaters) do not inspire, and in many cases are indeed less inspiring than people who have never harmed others to begin with (Experiments 5–7). Together, these studies reveal how, why, and when one’s past influences one’s present in the eyes of others: having some “bad” in your past can be surprisingly positive, at least partly because observers assume that becoming “good” is harder than being “good” all along.
... Similarly, recent research about motivated implicit theories regarding negative traits has demonstrated that people believe that their weaknesses are more malleable than their strengths (Steimer & Mata, 2016). Klein and Epley (2016) found that people believed that they were less likely than others to perform a variety of hypothetical negative behaviors in the moral arena. Whereas most of the studies in their research focused on hypothetical behaviors that participants may have never committed, the current research examined predictions about potential repeat offenses of behaviors that participants had actually committed. ...
... A related line of research on the Temporally Extended Self has expanded research on temporal self-appraisal theory by examining the implications that imagined future selves have on current self-appraisals (Peetz & Wilson, 2008), although research on this topic has not been directed at negative characteristics and behaviors (Peetz & Wilson, 2008;Williams & Gilovich, 2008;Williams et al., 2012). Our research, along with other recent research (Klein & Epley, 2016;Steimer & Mata, 2016) fill this gap in the literature by focusing on individuals' beliefs that their faults and behaviors will become less negative in the future. ...
Article
Three studies explored whether self-enhancement is precluded when people recognize or even exaggerate their worst faults and behaviors. Even when acknowledging their faults, participants minimized the extent to which their bad characteristics re ected what kind of people they were, predicted that they would improve more in the future than would others with the same faults, claimed that others have done worse things to them than they have to others, and indicated that others are more likely to repeat the same bad behaviors in the future than themselves. Observers who read actors’descriptions of their own misdeeds and those of others also saw the things that were done to actors as worse than the things actors had done.
... This is an instance of the more general gap between actors and observers. Whereas actors know their own intentions and motives, targets and observers must infer those intentions from actors' judgments and behavior (Epley & Dunning, 2000;Gilbert & Malone, 1995;Klein & Epley, 2016;Klein & O'Brien, 2017;Koehler & Poon, 2006;Pronin, 2009). Lacking a more reliable signal, targets and observers may therefore rely on a perspective taker's assessment of their emotional response as a way of inferring the perspective taker's effort and empathy. ...
... For example, a husband who causes distress to his wife and then underestimates how much distress he caused may be especially galling to the wife compared to a husband who underestimates distress unrelated to himself. Interestingly, existing research suggests that people experience their own intentions as positive even while their behavior causes harm to others (Klein & Epley, 2016;Swann & Bosson, 2010). Thus, perspective takers who cause targets to experience negative feelings may experience their own actions more positively than targets do, and therefore may be especially likely to underestimate the negative feeling they themselves have caused. ...
... When the lawyer started to have second thoughts about the work he was doing, the devil convinced him to continue by reminding him of all the good he could later do with the fruits of his labour. After the lawyer left the scene the devil turned to the camera and declared: "Vanity: my favourite sin!" Research has come up with convincing evidence that much human behaviour is characterized by moral hypocrisy (Batson 2015) , people mostly tend to prefer feeling moral to acting morally (Gino, Norton & Weber 2016) , are self-righteous (Klein & Epley 2016) , beliefs adjust to moral evaluations rather than the other way round (Liu & Ditto 2013) and supposedly altruistic punishment of transgressors serves self-interest (Krasnow, Delton, Cosmides & Tooby 2016). But surely not us? ...
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NOTE: There is a revised version of this paper, now entitled "Mindfulness and the psychology of ethical dogmatism" https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322834808_Mindfulness_and_the_psychology_of_ethical_dogmatism
... Consistent with this hypothesis, recent evidence suggests that "selfrighteousness" -manifested in, for example, the average person rating themselves morally superior to the average person (Tappin & McKay, 2017) -are greater for immoral than moral stimuli (Klein & Epley, 2016. Relatedly, the correlation between individuals' life satisfaction and their self-perception is reportedly stronger if the latter is computed as the distance between individuals' "real" and "undesired" selves vs. between their "real" and "desired" selves (Ogilvie, 1987). ...
Article
Full-text available
Prosociality is fundamental to human social life, and, accordingly, much research has attempted to explain human prosocial behavior. Capraro and Rand (Judgment and Decision Making, 13, 99–111, 2018) recently provided experimental evidence that prosociality in anonymous, one-shot interactions (such as Prisoner's Dilemma and Dictator Game experiments) is not driven by outcome-based social preferences – as classically assumed – but by a generalized morality preference for “doing the right thing”. Here we argue that the key experiments reported in Capraro and Rand (2018) comprise prominent methodological confounds and open questions that bear on influential psychological theory. Specifically, their design confounds: (i) preferences for efficiency with self-interest; and (ii) preferences for action with preferences for morality. Furthermore, their design fails to dissociate the preference to do “good” from the preference to avoid doing “bad”. We thus designed and conducted a preregistered, refined and extended test of the morality preference hypothesis (N = 801). Consistent with this hypothesis, our findings indicate that prosociality in the anonymous, one-shot Dictator Game is driven by preferences for doing the morally right thing. Inconsistent with influential psychological theory, however, our results suggest the preference to do “good” was as potent as the preference to avoid doing “bad” in this case.
... People routinely overestimate their own knowledge and abilities (Gilovich, 1991;West & Stanovich, 1997;Kruger & Dunning, 1999;Rozenblit & Keil, 2002) and downplay the role of situational factors when accounting for their own accomplishments (Jones & Nisbett, 1971;Malle, 2006). This self-serving bias leads people to deem themselves superior to others in virtually every testable way-more virtuous, more skilled, more rational, more unique (Alicke, 1985;Brown, 1986;Falk, 1989;Kenworthy & Miller, 2002;Klein & Epley, 2016). Naturally, people also believe themselves to be less prone to cognitive biases than the average schmo (Pronin, Lin, & Ross, 2002;Pronin, Gilovich, & Ross, 2004). ...
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A long tradition of psychological research has explored the distinction between characteristics that are part of the self and those that lie outside of it. Recently, a surge of research has begun examining a further distinction. Even among characteristics that are internal to the self, people pick out a subset as belonging to the true self. These factors are judged as making people who they really are, deep down. In this paper, we introduce the concept of the true self and identify features that distinguish people's understanding of the true self from their understanding of the self more generally. In particular, we consider recent findings that the true self is perceived as positive and moral and that this tendency is actor-observer invariant and cross-culturally stable. We then explore possible explanations for these findings and discuss their implications for a variety of issues in psychology.
... In contrast, adults typically distinguished among agents; for example, they reported that they were more likely than God or another person to think that good behaviours were acceptable. Adults may have viewed themselves as more moral than other people, consistent with work showing that Western adults value uniqueness (Fromkin & Snyder, 1980) and evaluate themselves more positively than others (Klein & Epley, 2016;Pronin, 2008). ...
Article
Extending prior research on belief attributions, we investigated the extent to which 5- to 8-year-olds and adults distinguish their beliefs and other humans' beliefs from God's beliefs. In Study 1, children reported that all agents held the same beliefs, whereas adults reported that they were more likely than any other agent to think that good behaviors were morally acceptable. Study 2 additionally investigated attributions of beliefs about controversial behaviors (e.g., telling prosocial lies) and belief stability. These data replicated the main results from Study 1 and additionally revealed that adults (but not children) reported that God was less likely than any other agent to think that controversial behaviors were morally acceptable. Furthermore, across ages, participants reported that another person’s beliefs were more likely to change than either God's beliefs or their own beliefs. We discuss implications for theories regarding belief attributions and for religious and moral cognition.
... Self-perceptions of moral superiority appear robust and relatively widespread. In numerous studies, majorities of people rate themselves as fairer, more trustworthy, and more honest-more moral-than the average person (Epley & Dunning, 2000;Fetchenhauer & Dunning, 2006;Klein & Epley, 2016, 2017Tappin & McKay, 2017;Van Lange & Sedikides, 1998). Under the broader phenomenon of "self-enhancement" (Alicke & Sedikides, 2011), past work has investigated (i) psychological explanations for (Sedikides, Meek, Alicke, & Taylor, 2014;Tappin & McKay, 2017;Van Lange & Sedikides, 1998) and (ii) interpersonal consequences of (Barranti, Carlson, & Furr, 2016;Heck & Krueger, 2016) self-perceived moral superiority (SPMS). ...
Article
Most people report that they are superior to the average person on various moral traits. The psychological causes and social consequences of this phenomenon have received considerable empirical attention. The behavioral correlates of self-perceived moral superiority (SPMS), however, remain unknown. We present the results of two preregistered studies (Study 1, N = 827; Study 2, N = 825), in which we indirectly assessed participants’ SPMS and used two incentivized economic games to measure their engagement in moral behavior. Across studies, SPMS was unrelated to trust in others and to trustworthiness, as measured by the trust game, and unrelated to fairness, as measured by the dictator game. This pattern of findings was robust to a range of analyses, and, in both studies, Bayesian analyses indicated moderate support for the null over the alternative hypotheses. We interpret and discuss these findings and highlight interesting avenues for future research on this topic.
... Although it is likely the nature of human beings to desire and believe themselves to be good people (Klein & Epley, 2016), there are at least two different ways that people strive to do so cross-culturally. In ...
... Our results show that in our culture images and representations still persist of the Gypsies that become a scapegoat for us to give them all the responsibility. As some authors have shown (Klein & Epley, 2016), when people consider the behaviour of others, they tend to adopt an 'outside approach' basing their predictions on observed behaviours and base rates from which corresponding intentions, motives, and other psychological states. This perspective serves to maintain a desirable self-image and a positive self-concept. ...
Article
‘Gypsy’ is a name that conjures up a wide variety of images in peoples’ minds. Romanticised for their freedom or reviled for their antisocial behaviour, Roma people have in turns been the subject of both exotic myth and virulent prejudice. Roma are depicted as romantic or criminal outsiders: anything from thieves to talented and artistic people. Exploiting the potentiality of Item Response Theory models, this study aims to assess the level of consolidation of positive and negative stereotypes on Roma people in Italy. In addition, we investigate how socio-demographic covariates affect the degree of acceptance of a clichéd depiction of Roma. Results suggest that images and representations of the ‘Gypsies’, which confirm a distinction between nature and culture, persist in our culture. On the one hand, Roma are perceived as ‘free’ from societal constrains (nature); on the other hand, they are portrayed as criminals and untruthful, relational qualities that arise in a societal organised condition (culture). This distinction continues to be misused to delegitimise minority groups, especially Roma.
... This corresponds with more recent research which showed that person perception is better explained by three content dimensionsmorality, communion and competence, but still moral dimension is central in person perception processes (Brambilla & Leach, 2014;Goodwin, Piazza, & Rozin, 2014). Finally, previous work showed that people believed to be morally superior (Epley & Dunning, 2001) or at least less evil than others (Klein & Epley, 2016). This suggests that perception of moral character of people who are similar to us can be biased by the interference with our moral superiority. ...
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People believe that their moral judgments are well-justified and as objective as scientific facts. Still, dual-process models of judgment provide strong theoretical reasons to expect that in reality moral judgments are substantially influenced by highly subjective factors such as attitudes. In four experiments (N = 645) we provide evidence that similarity-dissimilarity of beliefs, mere exposure, and facial mimicry influence judgments of moral character measured in various ways. These influences are mediated by changes in liking of the judged persons, suggesting that attitudinal influences lay at the core of moral character perceptions. Changes in mood do not play such a role. This is the first line of studies showing that attitudes influence moral judgments in addition to frequently studied discrete emotions. It is also the first research evidencing the affective influences on judgments of moral character.
... Another possibility is that the two domains are asymmetrically weighted in how observers respond to social-comparative claims. If it is the case that negative information looms larger in the moral domain and positive information is more important in the competence domain (i.e., Klein & Epley, 2016;Reeder & Brewer, 1979;Skowronski & Carlston, 1989), then it is sufficient to argue that one negative observation (a betterthan-average claim) and one positive observation (performing better than average) should result in low morality and high competence. ...
Article
How do social observers perceive and judge individuals who self-enhance (vs. not)? Using a decision-theoretic framework, we distinguish between self-enhancement bias and error, where the former comprises both correct and incorrect self-perceptions of being better than average. The latter occurs when a claim to be better than others is found to be false. In two studies, we find that when judging people's competence, observers are sensitive to the accuracy of self-perception. When judging their morality, however, they tend to respond negatively to any claims of being better than average. These findings are further modulated by the domain of performance (intelligence vs. moral aptitude). Implications for the strategic use of self-enhancement claims are discussed.
... Alternatively, people might believe that they are more altruistic than others (i.e., seeing oneself as an altruist among egoists). Prior work suggests that people overestimate their selflessness )-especially when comparing themselves to others (Epley & Dunning, 2000;Pronin, 2007;Rempel et al., 1985; but see also Klein & Epley, 2016). As such, beliefs about altruism may feature a motivated bias that places oneself above the average person (Kunda, 1990). ...
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Are humans ever truly altruistic? Or are all actions, however noble, ultimately motivated by self-interest? Scientists and philosophers have long grappled with this question, but few have considered laypeople’s beliefs about the nature of prosocial motives. Here we examine these beliefs and their social correlates. In line with prior work, we find that people tend to believe humans can be, and frequently are, altruistically motivated. Moreover, people who more strongly believe in altruistic motivation act more prosocially themselves—for instance, sacrificing relatively high levels of money and time to help others—a relationship that holds even when controlling for trait empathy. People who believe in altruism also judge other prosocial agents to be more genuinely kind, especially when agents’ motives are ambiguous. Together, this work suggests that believing in altruism predicts the extent to which people both see altruism and act altruistically, possibly reflecting the self-fulfilling nature of such lay theories.
... In addressing such claims, some researchers propose that one should consider meditation only for its evidence-based benefits, with ethical and moral aspects being independent attributions of different cultural biases and ethical dogmas (Coronado-Montoya et al., 2016;Klein and Epley, 2016;Kabat-Zinn, 2017;Mattes, 2018). Here, they consider moral behaviors to be independent of these practices. ...
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There exists no individual who does not exhibit prosociality in one or the other situation of their lifetime. But the argument is, to what extent? Whether it arises spontaneously out of true empathy and compassion for others or it is goal-oriented with some hidden motive? Here, our primary intention is to convey that, though various meditation-based interventions can be utilized for different purposes like cultivating prosocial behaviors such as compassion, empathy etc., one's underlying motive and intent seems to play a crucial role in an individual’s development. Most of the studies exploring prosociality in the context of meditation usually do not consider the role of hidden or underlying motivation in one’s prosocial expression. By considering an example of how mindfulness may sometimes lead to wrong consequences, we try to analyze why it is very important to include the aspect of inner motivation in future studies exploring the effects of meditation on prosociality. We also propose that while practicing one may need traditional assistance and ethical/moral teachings in addition to those merely isolated techniques.
... This attitude enables a credible absolution and probably mitigates any extant cognitive dissonance. In the words of (Klein and Epley 2016), "Believing one "less evil than thou" seems more reliable and safer than believing one is "holier than thou."" That is, self-enhancement takes place in the process (Tappin and McKay 2017). ...
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We investigate the level of tolerance towards tax non-compliance and the informal economy in Romania, using a sample of 250 respondents. This variable is determined by a complex set of latent variables that include, but is not limited to, state capacity, social and business norms, the perception of non-compliance, and the perception of distributive justice. We find that our respondents are intolerant towards tax evasion and the informal economy, but the level of intolerance is relatively mild. Using a partial least squares-path modeling approach, we also find that a weak state capacity and the perception of lack of distributive justice increases the level of tolerance. The perception of tax evasion stemming from media reports, and the respondents' own self-enhancement bias, combine to push the level of tolerance lower.
... Alternatively, people might believe that they are more altruistic than others (i.e., seeing oneself as an altruist among egoists). Prior work suggests that people overestimate their generosity (Carlson, Maréchal, et al., 2020)-especially when comparing themselves to others (Epley & Dunning, 2000;Pronin, 2007;Rempel et al., 1985; but see also Klein & Epley, 2016). As such, beliefs about altruism may feature a motivated bias that places oneself above the average person (Kunda, 1990). ...
Article
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Are humans ever truly altruistic? Or are all actions, however noble, ultimately motivated by self-interest? Psychologists and philosophers have long grappled with this question, but few have considered laypeople’s beliefs about the nature of prosocial motives. Here we examine these beliefs and their social correlates across two experiments (N = 445). We find that people tend to believe humans can be, and frequently are, altruistically motivated—echoing prior work. Moreover, people who more strongly believe in altruistic motives act more prosocially themselves—for instance, sacrificing greater amounts of money and time to help others—a relationship that holds even when controlling for trait empathy. People who believe in altruistic motives also judge other prosocial agents to be more genuinely kind, especially when agents’ motives are ambiguous. Lastly, people independently show a self-serving bias—believing their own motives for prosociality are more often altruistic than others’. Overall, this work suggests that believing in altruistic motives predicts the extent to which people both see altruism and act prosocially, possibly reflecting the self-fulfilling nature of such lay theories.
... There was no difference in source memory between self-referenced and other-referenced nice items, indicating that the self-enhancement bias in our study was the result of poorer memory for self-referenced mean items, not enhanced memory for self-referenced nice items. This is consistent with prior research with adults showing that we tend to remember ourselves as less immoral than others, but not necessarily as more moral (Klein & Epley, 2016). Our findings extend previous evidence of self-enhancement in children's memory narratives (e.g., Tasimi & Young, 2016;Wainryb et al., 2005) by demonstrating the bias in a carefully controlled experimental setting. ...
Article
Adults tend to remember themselves in a positive way. For example, they are more likely to remember their past good deeds rather than their past bad deeds. We investigated whether children (N = 40) are also biased in how they remember information related to themselves. Using the self-reference memory paradigm, we found that 8- to 10-year-olds’ source memory for mean action phrases (e.g., “Lie to someone”) was worse when the phrases were encoded with reference to themselves compared to when they were encoded with reference to others. Source memory for self-referenced mean phrases was also worse than source memory for self-referenced nice action phrases (e.g., “Be kind to someone”) and self-referenced neutral action phrases (e.g., “Draw a circle”). These results provide some of the first experimental evidence for self-enhancement in children's memory.
... Given that utilitarianism emphasizes the observable outcomes of actions and deontology emphasizes the intrinsic nature of actions (rights and duties) (Bartels et al., 2015), people would show a stronger association between other and utilitarianism (self and deontology) than between self and utilitarianism (other and deontology). One might argue that the self-other moral bias could be explained by the holier-than-thou effect that people perceive themselves as more righteous than others (Klein & Epley, 2016). It is noteworthy that both deontological and utilitarian principles are legitimate ethical foundations (Greene et al., 2001). ...
Article
Self–other bias can engender disagreement, misunderstanding, and conflict in real-world interactions. Moral perspectives are powerful in shaping thoughts and behaviors. Whether there is a self–other moral bias is poorly understood. We leveraged the Implicit Association Test (Study 1), the evaluative priming task (Study 2), and the Word-Embedding Association Test (Study 3) to demonstrate the self–other moral bias. We found that 1) people held a significantly stronger association between self and deontology (other and utilitarianism) than other and deontology (self and utilitarianism); and 2) the association between the self and other words and the deontological and utilitarian words was further identified in large bodies of English-language text from the Internet. An awareness of the self–other moral bias may facilitate a better understanding of others' attitudes and behaviors.
... That is, if people's intuitive predictions about the level of cheating likely to exist in a system of social assistance were accurate, they would presumably lead to policies that accorded a due amount of expense to verifying deservingness. However, there is widespread evidence that this may not be so: people consistently expect others to be morally worse than they expect to be themselves (Klein and Epley 2016). They expect others to be more driven by narrow self-interest (Bannerjee and Duflo 2019), and to slack off effort more than they themselves would if provided with resources unconditionally (Dalia Research 2017). ...
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This paper represents a collaboration between a policy researcher and a behavioural scientist who studies cooperation. Our goal was to develop a shared understanding of one particular policy topic, the reforms to the UK system of disability benefits initiated during the last term of the New Labour Government and accelerated under the Conservative-led administrations since 2010. These reforms introduced much stronger focus on conditionality and assessment, aiming to reduce the cost of the benefit by identifying and removing ‘cheaters’ or ‘undeserving’ recipients from the system. The reforms have failed by even their own stated goals. Here, we seek to understand why they seemed appealing and intuitively likely to succeed. We argue that humans are vigilant cooperators, sensitive to cues of need in others, but also highly susceptible to the idea that others are cheating. This vigilance is particularly marked where they lack a reassuring stream of direct personal evidence to the contrary. The vigilance of human cooperative psychology makes ideas of greater conditionality and punishment easy for politicians to conceive of and sell. However, set against this, there are principles that can be used and successfully appealed to in advocating greater generosity in welfare systems. These include the fundamental social similarity of recipients and non-recipients, and the idea that resources are not generated individually but represent the common windfall of a whole group. Key messages Humans are vigilant cooperators, motivated to help others, but attuned to cues of cheating. Vigilant cooperation drives popular intuitions about how welfare systems should work. This can be illustrated by examining changes to UK disability benefits. Appealing to popular intuitions does not necessarily lead to optimal policy making. </ul
... At first blush, this hypothesis seems to contradict selfenhancement-people's tendency to view themselves more favorably than others do (e.g., Alicke, Klotz, Breitenbecher, Yurak, & Vredenburg, 1995;Dunning, Meyerowitz, & Holzberg, 1989;Epley & Dunning, 2000;Messick, Bloom, Boldizar, & Samuelson, 1985). However, although self-enhancing judgments are common, there are exceptions (Deri, Davidai, & Gilovich, 2017;Klein & Epley, 2016, 2017Kruger, 1999). I suggest that heroic actions are such an exception because actors and observers focus on different things when evaluating them. ...
Article
Heroic acts are prosocial actions that involve extreme sacrifice and risk. Such acts receive near-ubiquitous praise. However, the present article suggests that one group refrains from praising heroic acts—heroes themselves. Using self-reflections provided in news reports, Experiment 1 finds that people who actually saved others’ lives do not view themselves as positively as they should according to outside observers. Experiment 2 measures participants’ recollections of their own extreme prosocial acts and finds that self-evaluations are less positive than observers’ evaluations. Experiment 3 finds that participants who imagine themselves performing a heroic act evaluate it less positively than participants who observe the same act. Experiments 2–3 identify differences in perceptions of personal burden as a mechanism—whereas observers believe that acting heroically involves extreme personal burden, actors view their personal burden as relatively unimportant. Being a hero is a distinctly less positive experience than observing one.
... Only Islam appears to be the remedy against the moral, political, economic and societal problems that plague the contemporary society. It is not only a matter of being Muslim (versus non Muslim) and believing (or not) in Islam, but of practicing pious and selfrighteous behaviors (being Muslim and, as such, a correct person versus not being Muslim and, as such, a bad person) (Klein & Epley, 2016). This statement is constantly widespread through the new information and communication technologies (Loza, 2007), as well as by school text-books, thus reaching also ordinary people . ...
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The aim of this work was to explore how the members of two representative Moroccan Islamist movements (one against the government and the other with previous political and administrative experiences) could deal with the civil state principles, when facing a counterargument task. The results showed that the political association had a significant impact on different civil state principles (secularism, separation of powers, political pluralism, elected governmental institutions, and participative governance), whereas other principles (acceptance of non Muslim governors and democracy) were considered to constitute the strong identity core of an Islamist party and were, as such, rejected by both movements. A significant gender effect could be found only for the principle of secularism.
... Indeed, some studies have found self-other differences mostly when the domain in question is framed in a negative way (e.g., people believe that they are less likely than others to commit immoral actions), and not so much for positive domains (e.g., performing moral actions; Klein & Epley, 2016. Other studies, however, have found that people do consider themselves to be more virtuous than others (e.g., more cooperative, egalitarian, and norm-abiding; Alicke, 1985;Brown, 2012;Codol, 1975), and not simply less bad. ...
Article
The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is the most popular instrument in implicit social cognition, with some scholars and practitioners calling for its use in applied settings. Yet, little is known about how people perceive the test's validity as a measure of their true attitudes toward members of other groups. Four experiments manipulated the desirability of the IAT's result and whether that result referred to one's own attitudes or other people's. Results showed a self-other asymmetry, such that people perceived a desirable IAT result to be more valid when it applied to themselves than to others, whereas the opposite held for undesirable IAT results. A fifth experiment demonstrated that these self-other differences influence how people react to the idea of using the IAT as a personnel selection tool. Experiment 6 tested whether the self-other effect was driven by motivation or expectations, finding evidence for motivated reasoning. All told, the current findings suggest potential barriers to implementing the IAT in applied settings. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
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The study aimed at determining the possible relationship among four important psychological variables in the realm of the Philippine National Police (PNP) officers. Four hundred (400) police officers from 3 police stations in Quezon City participated in the study. Four sets of adopted standardized questionnaires were administered to measure self-righteousness, authoritarianism, compassion, and aggression to the respondents. Descriptive statistics were applied to determine the average scores in psychological variables; t-test and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) were applied to test significant difference according to demographic profile, while zero-order correlation was applied to determine significant relationship between variables before finally proceeding to regression analysis. Results revealed that respondents have an average score in self-righteousness (3.38), have high mean scores in authoritarianism (3.68) and compassion (3.99), while having low mean score in aggression (2.31) with noticeable significant differences according to demographic profile. There is a significant positive correlation between self-righteousness and authoritarianism, self-righteousness and compassion, authoritarianism and compassion. A significant negative correlation exists between compassion and aggression. Only scores in authoritarianism and compassion turn to be significant predictors to score in aggression. Implications for professional trainings and further studies in the field are recommended based from the results.
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People frequently judge how they are viewed by others during social interactions. These judgments are called metaperceptions. This study investigates the relationship between eagerness to determine the evaluation of others and metaperceptions. We propose that eagerness, which reflects approach motivation, induces positive emotions. We apply feelings-as-information theory and hypothesize that positive emotions cause optimistic self-evaluations and metaperceptions. Participants in three studies interact with judges during a singing contest (Study 1), a speech (Study 2), and an interview (Study 3). Results corroborate that eagerness to learn the evaluation of others is overall related to optimistically biased metaperceptions. This effect is mediated sequentially by positive emotions, optimistic self-evaluations, and increased metaperceptions.
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We investigate the level of tolerance towards tax non-compliance and the informal economy in Romania, using a sample of 250 respondents. This variable is determined by a complex set of latent variables that include, but is not limited to, state capacity, social and business norms, the perception of non-compliance, and the perception of distributive justice. We find that our respondents are intolerant towards tax evasion and the informal economy, but the level of intolerance is relatively mild. Using a partial least squares-path modeling approach, we also find that a weak state capacity and the perception of lack of distributive justice increases the level of tolerance. The perception of tax evasion stemming from media reports, and the respondents' own self-enhancement bias, combine to push the level of tolerance lower.
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Overestimation of one’s ability to argue their position on socio-political issues may partially underlie the current climate of political extremism in the U.S. Yet very little is known about what factors influence overestimation in argumentation of socio-political issues. Across three experiments, emotional investment substantially increased participants’ overestimation. Potential confounding factors like topic complexity and familiarity were ruled out as alternative explanations (Experiments 1–3). Belief-based cues were established as a mechanism underlying the relationship between emotional investment and overestimation in a measurement-of-mediation (Experiment 2) and manipulation-of-mediator (Experiment 3) design. Representing a new bias blind spot, participants believed emotional investment helps them argue better than it helps others (Experiments 2 and 3); where in reality emotional investment harmed or had no effect on argument quality. These studies highlight misguided beliefs about emotional investment as a factor underlying metacognitive miscalibration in the context of socio-political issues.
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We propose a dynamic model of moral decision making whereby people revise their morally relevant preferences as their options evolve. We employ this model to reinterpret prior findings on moral hypocrisy. In particular, we revisit the finding that, when tasked to assign themselves and another person to tasks that differ in pleasantness, participants who “flip a coin” to determine the task allocation assign themselves to the preferable task more than fifty percent of the time. This result was originally thought to reveal that people will take moral credit for flipping a coin while simultaneously harboring the intention of disregarding its outcome if it is negative. We suggest instead that people flip the coin not with the intention of disregarding the outcome, but with the hope of maximizing their self-interest without self-reproach (Studies 1 and 2); only when this outcome proves unachievable do they resort to rationalizing their self-interested assignment (Studies 3 and 4). These findings offer a novel perspective on the flexibility of moral decisions.
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Ethics blind spots, which have become a keystone of the emerging behavioral ethics literature, are essentially biases, heuristics, and psychological traps. Though students typically recognize that ethical challenges exist in the world at large, they often fail to see when they are personally prone to ethics blind spots. This creates an obstacle for ethics education—inducing students to act in an ethical manner when faced with real challenges. Grounded in the social psychology literature, we suggest that a meta-bias, the bias blind spot, should be addressed to facilitate student recognition of real-world ethical dilemmas and their own susceptibility to biases. We present a roadmap for an ethics education training module, developed to incorporate both ethics blind spots and self-perception biases. After completing the module, students identified potential ethical challenges in their real-world team projects and reflected on their susceptibility to ethical transgressions. Qualitative student feedback supports the value of this training module beyond traditional ethics education approaches. Lessons for management and ethics educators include (a) the value of timely, in-context ethics interventions and (b) the need for student self-reflection (more so than emphasis on broad ethical principles). Future directions are discussed.
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Laws govern society, regulating people's behavior to create social harmony. Yet recent research indicates that when laws are broken by people we know and love, we consistently fail to report their crimes. Here we identify an expectancy-based cognitive mechanism that underlies this phenomenon and illustrate how it interacts with people's motivations to predict their intentions to report crimes. Using a combination of self-report and brain (ERP) measures, we demonstrate that although witnessing any crime violates people's expectations, expectancy violations are stronger when close (vs. distant) others commit crimes. We further employ an experimental-causal-chain design to show that people resolve their expectancy violations in diametrically opposed ways depending on their relationship to the transgressor. When close others commit crimes, people focus more on the individual (vs. the crime), which leads them to protect the transgressor. However, the reverse is true for distant others, which leads them to punish the transgressor. These findings highlight the sensitivity of early attentional processes to information about close relationships. They further demonstrate how these processes interact with motivation to shape moral decisions. Together, they help explain why people stubbornly protect close others, even in the face of severe crimes.
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Moral grandstanding, or the use of moral talk for self-promotion, is a threat to free expression. When grandstanding is introduced in a public forum, several ideals of free expression are less likely to be realized. Popular views are less likely to be challenged, people are less free to entertain heterodox ideas, and the cost of changing one’s mind goes up.
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Motivated by recent controversies concerning the relationship between modern mindfulness-based interventions and Buddhism, this article discusses the relationship between mindfulness and dogmatism in general, and dogmatism in ethics in particular. The point of view taken is primarily that of the psychology of judgment and decision making: Various cognitive illusions affect the feelings of righteousness and certainty that tend to accompany ethical and moral judgments. I argue that even though there is some evidence that mindfulness practice improves judgment and decision making, this improvement is rarely as strong as is implied in various contributions to the above-mentioned controversies. In addition, I reflect on claims that “the original teachings of the Buddha” justify the moral stances taken. I argue that these stances likely arise, at least in part, due to the cultural transmission of cognitive dissonance of early Christianity rather than being inherent in the Buddha’s teachings.
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Humans are averse to both having less (i.e., disadvantageous inequity aversion [IA]) and having more than others (i.e., advantageous IA). However, the social-affective traits that drive individual differences in IA are not well understood. Here, by combining a modified dictator game and a computational model, we found in a sample of incarcerated adolescents ( N = 67) that callous-unemotional traits were specifically associated with low advantageous but not disadvantageous IA. We replicated and extended the finding in a large-scale university student sample ( N = 2,250) by adopting a dimensional approach to social-affective trait measures. We showed that advantageous IA was strongly and negatively associated with a trait dimension characterized by callousness and lack of social emotions (e.g., guilt and compassion). A supportive family environment negatively correlated with this trait dimension and positively with advantageous IA. These results identify a core set of social-affective dimensions specifically associated with advantageous IA.
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The data includes measures collected for the two experiments reported in “False-Positive Psychology” [1] where listening to a randomly assigned song made people feel younger (Study 1) or actually be younger (Study 2). These data are useful because they illustrate inflations of false positive rates due to flexibility in data collection, analysis, and reporting of results. Data are useful for educational purposes.
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Past research suggests that people believe that they perform socially desirable behaviors more frequently and socially undesirable behaviors less frequently than others (Goethals, 1986; Messick, Bloom, Boldizar, & Samuelson, 1985). The present research examined whether this perception also characterizes people's thinking about intelligent and unintelligent behaviors. In Study 1, subjects wrote lists of behaviors that they or others did. Subjects indicated that they performed more good and intelligent behaviors and fewer bad and unintelligent behaviors than others, although the magnitude of these differences was greater for good and bad acts than for intelligent and unintelligent ones. In Study 2, a different group of subjects judged the frequency with which the behaviors generated in the first study occur. While self-ascribed good behaviors were rated as occurring more frequently than the good acts of others, self-ascribed intelligent behaviors were not judged as more frequent than the intelligent acts of...
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Prosociality is considered a virtue. Those who care for others are admired, whereas those who care only for themselves are despised. For one's reputation, it pays to be nice. Does it pay to be even nicer? Four experiments assess reputational inferences across the entire range of prosocial outcomes in zero-sum interactions, from completely selfish to completely selfless actions. We observed consistent nonlinear evaluations: Participants evaluated selfish actions more negatively than equitable actions, but they did not evaluate selfless actions markedly more favorably than equitable actions. This asymptotic pattern reflected monotonic evaluations for increasingly selfish actions and insensitivity to increasingly selfless actions. It pays to be nice but not to be really nice. Additional experiments suggest that this pattern stems partly from failing to make spontaneous comparisons between varying degrees of selflessness. We suggest that these reputational incentives could guide social norms, encouraging equitable actions but discouraging extremely selfless actions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
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Seven studies demonstrate that threats to moral identity can increase how definitively people think they have previously proven their morality. When White participants were made to worry that their future behavior could seem racist, they overestimated how much a prior decision of theirs would convince an observer of their non-prejudiced character (Studies 1a-3). Ironically, such overestimation made participants appear more prejudiced to observers (Study 4). Studies 5 to 6 demonstrated a similar effect of threat in the domain of charitable giving-an effect driven by individuals for whom maintaining a moral identity is particularly important. Threatened participants only enhanced their beliefs that they had proven their morality when there was at least some supporting evidence, but these beliefs were insensitive to whether the evidence was weak or strong (Study 2). Discussion considers the role of motivated reasoning, and implications for ethical decision making and moral licensing.
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People tend to approach agreeable propositions with a bias toward confirmation and disagreeable propositions with a bias toward disconfirmation. Because the appropriate strategy for solving the four-card Wason selection task is to seek disconfirmation, the authors predicted that people motivated to reject a task rule should be more likely to solve the task than those without such motivation. In two studies, participants who considered a Wason task rule that implied their own early death (Study 1) or the validity of a threatening stereotype (Study 2) vastly outperformed participants who considered nonthreatening or agreeable rules. Discussion focuses on how a skeptical mindset may help people avoid confirmation bias both in the context of the Wason task and in everyday reasoning.
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Most people judge themselves to be content with their lives. However, they also judge themselves to be more content than the others in their group, which is a logical impossibility. In line with previous speculations, the authors found in two studies that comparative contentment judgments were highly related to judgments of one’s own contentment but entirely unrelated to judgments of comparison of others’ contentment. That is, comparative contentment judgments are predominantly self-focused. Researchers asking the question, “How content are you relative to your peers?” should be aware that the response might well be to the question “How content are you?”
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This study introduces a new paradigm for investigating the dynamic processes of disobedience between individuals and unjust authority. Our experimental setting allowed participants (n = 149) to deal with an unethical request by the experimenter with options of (dis)obeying or “blowing the whistle”. Results revealed that the majority (77%) complied while the minority was split between those refusing (14%) and those reporting the misconduct to higher authorities (9%). No significant differences were found in personal characteristics and dispositional variables distinguishing between obedient, disobedient, and whistleblower participants. An independent sample (n = 138), when asked to predict their behavior, gave exactly the opposite reaction to our experimental participants: Only 4% believed they would obey that authority.
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Research in which people compare themselves with an average peer has consistently shown that people evaluate themselves more favorably than they evaluate others. Seven studies were conducted to demonstrate that the magnitude of this better-than-average effect depends on the level of abstraction in the comparison. These studies showed that people were less biased when they compared themselves with an individuated target than when they compared themselves with a nonindividuated target, namely, the average college student. The better-than-average effect was reduced more when the observer had personal contact with the comparison target than when no personal contact was established. Differences in the magnitude of the better-than-average effect could not be attributed to the contemporaneous nature of the target's presentation, communication from the target, perceptual vividness, implied evaluation, or perceptions of similarity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Tested 3 hypotheses concerning people's predictions of task completion times: (1) people underestimate their own but not others' completion times, (2) people focus on plan-based scenarios rather than on relevant past experiences while generating their predictions, and (3) people's attributions diminish the relevance of past experiences. Five studies were conducted with a total of 465 undergraduates. Results support each hypothesis. Ss' predictions of their completion times were too optimistic for a variety of academic and nonacademic tasks. Think-aloud procedures revealed that Ss focused primarily on future scenarios when predicting their completion times. The optimistic bias was eliminated for Ss instructed to connect relevant past experiences with their predictions. Ss attributed their past prediction failures to external, transient, and specific factors. Observer Ss overestimated others' completion times and made greater use of relevant past experiences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Three experiments show that information consistent with a preferred conclusion is examined less critically than information inconsistent with a preferred conclusion, and consequently, less information is required to reach the former than the latter. In Study 1, Ss judged which of 2 students was most intelligent, believing they would work closely with the one they chose. Ss required less information to decide that a dislikable student was less intelligent than that he was more intelligent. In Studies 2 and 3, Ss given an unfavorable medical test result took longer to decide their test result was complete, were more likely to retest the validity of their result, cited more life irregularities that might have affected test accuracy, and rated test accuracy as lower than did Ss receiving more favorable diagnoses. Results suggest that a core component of self-serving bias is the differential quantity of cognitive processing given to preference-consistent and preference-inconsistent information. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Evidence from several lab and field studies is presented that indicates that people have cynical intuitions about how others assess responsibility. Married couples (Study 1), video game enthusiasts (Study 2), debaters (Study 3), and darts players (Study 4) divided responsibility for a series of desirable and undesirable joint outcomes and anticipated how others would apportion responsibility. In all studies, participants expected the responsibility allocations of others–but not their own–to be motivationally biased. This was true regardless of whether responsibility assessments actually were biased. In Studies 3 and 4, participants assumed that their teammates would be less biased than their opponents, suggesting that factors known to influence motivation can moderate the strength of this "naive cynicism." (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Most empirical research investigating the motivational properties of cognitive dissonance has focused on the arousal component of dissonance rather than on the psychological component explicitly delineated by L. Festinger (1957). In 2 induced-compliance experiments involving a total of 112 undergraduates, a self-report measure of affect was used to demonstrate that dissonance was experienced as psychological discomfort and that this psychological discomfort was alleviated on implementation of a dissonance-reduction strategy, attitude change. Exp 1 yielded supporting evidence for both of these propositions. Exp 2 replicated the 1st experiment and ruled out a self-perception-based alternative explanation for the dissonance-reduction findings in Exp 1. Results support Festinger's conceptualization of cognitive dissonance as a fundamentally motivational state. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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When people are asked to compare their abilities to those of their peers, they predominantly provide self-serving assessments that appear objectively indefensible. This article proposes that such assessments occur because the meaning of most characteristics is ambiguous, which allows people to use self-serving trail definitions when providing self-evaluations. Studies 1 and 2 revealed that people provide self-serving assessments to the extent that the trait is ambiguous, that is, to the extent that it can describe a wide variety of behaviors. Study 3 more directly implicated ambiguity in these apraisals. As the number of criteria that Ss could use in their evaluations increased, Ss endorsed both positive and negative characteristics as self-descriptive to a greater degree. Study 4 demonstrated that the evidence and criteria that people use in self-evaluations is idiosyncratic. Asking Ss explicitly to list the evidence and criteria they considered before providing self-evaluations did not influence their self-appraisals. However, requiring Ss to evaluate themselves using a list generated by another individual caused them to lower their self-appraisals. Discussion centers on the normative status of these self-serving appraisals, and on potential consequences for social judgment in general.
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Research supporting the mnemic neglect model finds that people more easily recall positive than negative personality feedback, even when only asked to imagine that the feedback is real. The same bias is not found when people are asked to recall information about other people. Despite evidence that these findings reflect self-enhancement motives, more research is needed to rule out the possibility that they instead simply reflect expectancies. Results supported the mnemic neglect model, and revealed that expectancies predicted recall only for a subgroup of participants who did not demonstrate the self–other recall bias characteristic of mnemic neglect: defensive pessimists, who are more likely than other people to process social information by comparing it to their expectancies. These findings suggest that mnemic neglect is not an artifact of expectancies, and is not driven by other self-evaluation motives (such as self-verification or self-assessment). Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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The authors present and test a theory of temporal self-appraisal. According to the theory, people can maintain their typically favorable self-regard by disparaging their distant and complimenting their recent past selves. This pattern of appraisals should be stronger for more important attributes because of their greater impact on self-regard and stronger for self-ratings than for ratings of other people. Studies 1 and 2 demonstrated that participants are more critical of distant past selves than of current selves, and Study 3 showed that this effect is obtained even when concurrent evaluations indicate no actual improvement. Studies 4 and 5 revealed that people perceived greater improvement for self than for acquaintances and siblings over the same time period. Study 6 provided support for the predicted effects of temporal distance and attribute importance on people's evaluation of past selves.
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We hypothesize that there is a general bias, based on both innate predispositions and experience, in animals and humans, to give greater weight to negative entities (e.g., events, objects, personal traits). This is manifested in 4 ways: (a) negative potency (negative entities are stronger than the equivalent positive entities), (b) steeper negative gradients (the negativity of negative events grows more rapidly with approach to them in space or time than does the positivity of positive events, (c) negativity dominance (combinations of negative and positive entities yield evaluations that are more negative than the algebraic sum of individual subjective valences would predict), and (d) negative differentiation (negative entities are more varied, yield more complex conceptual representations, and engage a wider response repertoire). We review evidence for this taxonomy, with emphasis on negativity dominance, including literary, historical, religious, and cultural sources, as well as the psychological literatures on learning, attention, impression formation, contagion, moral judgment, development, and memory. We then consider a variety of theoretical accounts for negativity bias. We suggest that I feature of negative events that make them dominant is that negative entities are more contagious than positive entities.
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Peer predictions of future behavior and achievement are often more accurate than those furnished by the self. Although both self- and peer predictions correlate equally with future outcomes, peers tend to avoid the degree of overoptimism so often seen in self-predictions. In 3 studies, the authors tested whether this differential accuracy arises because people give more weight to past behavior when predicting others, but emphasize agentic information, in particular data about their aspiration level, when predicting the self. Studies 1 and 3 showed that the exact same participants rated past behavior more diagnostic of future performance when predicting another person but viewed aspiration-level data as more valuable when someone else was trying to predict them. In Studies 2 and 3 (predicting an upcoming exam score and performance in a lab task, respectively), participants gave greater weight in self-predictions to aspiration-level data than did a yoked peer, who instead gave greater weight to evidence of past achievement. This differential weighting explained why peer predictions tended to be less optimistic and, thus, more accurate. Discussion centers on strategies for predicting future behavior and why people may remain ignorant of their own incompetence despite feedback.
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Subjects wrote lists of either fair or unfair things that they or others did. A pervasive tendency was found for subjects to associate themselves with fair behaviors and others with unfair behaviors. When different subjects rated samples of the written behaviors for fairness and frequency we found that fair behaviors were rated as more frequent than unfair behaviors and self-ascribed behaviors were rated as fairer than behaviors ascribed to others. These findings and others are shown to result from a tendency for subjects to perceive a stronger link between the fairness and frequency of their own behavior than between the fairness and frequency of the behavior of other people. A final analysis showed that the subcategories of unfair behavior that subjects associated with others were different from those associated with themselves.
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In this study subjects were asked about their competence as drivers in relation to a group of drivers. The results showed that a majority of subjects regarded themselves as more skillful and less risky than the average driver in each group respectively. This result was compared with similar recent findings in other fields. Finally, the consequences for planning and risk taking of seeing oneself as more competent than others were discussed briefly.
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The greater power of bad events over good ones is found in everyday events, major life events (e.g., trauma), close relationship outcomes, social network patterns, interpersonal interactions, and learning processes. Bad emotions, bad parents, and bad feedback have more impact than good ones, and bad information is processed more thoroughly than good. The self is more motivated to avoid bad self-definitions than to pursue good ones. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones. Various explanations such as diagnosticity and salience help explain some findings, but the greater power of bad events is still found when such variables are controlled. Hardly any exceptions (indicating greater power of good) can be found. Taken together, these findings suggest that bad is stronger than good, as a general principle across a broad range of psychological phenomena.
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The culture movement challenged the universality of the self-enhancement motive by proposing that the motive is pervasive in individualistic cultures (the West) but absent in collectivistic cultures (the East). The present research posited that Westerners and Easterners use different tactics to achieve the same goal: positive self-regard. Study 1 tested participants from differing cultural backgrounds (the United States vs. Japan), and Study 2 tested participants of differing self-construals (independent vs. interdependent). Americans and independents self-enhanced on individualistic attributes, whereas Japanese and interdependents self-enhanced on collectivistic attributes. Independents regarded individualistic attributes, whereas interdependents regarded collectivistic attributes, as personally important. Attribute importance mediated self-enhancement. Regardless of cultural background or self-construal, people self-enhance on personally important dimensions. Self-enhancement is a universal human motive.
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Many decisions are based on beliefs concerning the likelihood of uncertain events such as the outcome of an election, the guilt of a defendant, or the future value of the dollar. Occasionally, beliefs concerning uncertain events are expressed in numerical form as odds or subjective probabilities. In general, the heuristics are quite useful, but sometimes they lead to severe and systematic errors. The subjective assessment of probability resembles the subjective assessment of physical quantities such as distance or size. These judgments are all based on data of limited validity, which are processed according to heuristic rules. However, the reliance on this rule leads to systematic errors in the estimation of distance. This chapter describes three heuristics that are employed in making judgments under uncertainty. The first is representativeness, which is usually employed when people are asked to judge the probability that an object or event belongs to a class or event. The second is the availability of instances or scenarios, which is often employed when people are asked to assess the frequency of a class or the plausibility of a particular development, and the third is adjustment from an anchor, which is usually employed in numerical prediction when a relevant value is available.
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Although children's initial perceptions and judgments about sociomoral situations are being actively explored, little is known about what children remember about them. In four experiments testing over 400 children, we investigated children's memories for small acts of giving and taking. When asked to recall their own giving and taking, children were relatively accurate following a number of delays. In contrast, when asked to recall a child's giving or taking, children exaggerated the child's taking after a 1-day or 1-week delay. Notably, this pattern of misremembering occurred only when children recalled the actions of a child but not an adult. We consider the idea that children spontaneously engage in social comparison, which colors their memories of the social world. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
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Experiment 1 was a replication in the Netherlands of a study reported by D. M. Messick, S. Bloom, J. P. Boldizar, and C. D. Samuelson (1985, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 21, 480–500). Subjects were asked to write down as many fair or unfair things as they could think of in 5 min. If the subjects thought that they did those things more often than others, they were to start the sentence with “I”, if not, then they were to start the sentence wit “They”. In both the Messick et al. study and in the present one, subjects began more fair behaviors with “I” than with “They“, and began more unfair behaviors with “They”. This basic bias is thus found in the Netherlands as well as the United States. In Experiment 2, subjects had to rate 80 randomly selected behaviors on their fairness, frequency, and salience. The differential slope pattern of results reported by Messick et al. was replicated in the Dutch study, i.e., “Fair” behaviors were rated as more frequent than “Unfair” behaviors, and the difference in frequency was greater for behaviors beginning with “I” than for behaviors beginning with “They”. Unfair behaviors beginning with “They” were also rated as particularly salient. Subjects sorted the samples of behaviors into ones that they did more than others and ones that others did more often. The frequency of self-ascription depended not only on the behaviors' fairness, frequency, and salience, but also on whether it was originally written as an “I” or a “They” behavior. Finally, some of the subjects were asked to recall as many as possible of the behaviors that they had rated. The most frequently recalled acts were “They-unfair” behaviors.
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Two studies are reported which demonstrate the influence of perceptual or ‘perspective’ variables in mediating attribution processes. In both studies subjects first observed a re‐enactment of Milgram's (1963) experiment of obedience in which a ‘teacher’ obeys an experimenter's request to deliver dangerously high levels of shock. They were then asked to make judgements concerning the magnitude of situational forces acting upon the teacher and also to make inferences about his personality dispositions. Study I showed that passage of time can lead observers to assume more situational control when they were required to think and write about the witnessed re‐enactment of the Milgram situation compared with observers who had no time to contemplate or who were prevented from doing so. Study II did not support the notion that focus of attribution is a simple function of what one pays attention to, or a function of the differing perspectives which actors and observers employ. Both of these results seriously challenge Jones and Nisbett's (1972) contention that the differences in attribution tendencies between actors and observers arise from the difference in perspective, Moreover, considerable evidence suggests that changes in situational and dispositional attributions may not follow a simple ‘zero‐sum’ model, and that subjects seem to be unwilling to treat the two sources of control as if they were inversely correlated.
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The mnemic neglect model (formerly the inconsistency – negativity neglect model, Sedikides & Green, 2000) contends that people recall self-referent feedback more poorly than other-referent feedback when it carries negative implications for central self-aspects, because such feedback is perceived as threatening. We tested the prediction that participants manifest such mnemic neglect only when the central negative feedback is highly diagnostic of self-aspects (high in threat potential), not when it is low in diagnosticity (low in threat potential). Participants read negative and positive feedback behaviors that referred either to the self or another person and that were either high or low in diagnosticity. As predicted, mnemic neglect was evident only for central negative behaviors high in diagnosticity. This retrieval selectivity illustrates the strategic nature of self-protection.
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This paper presents an approach to elicitation and correction of intuitive forecasts, which attempts to retain the valid component of intuitive judgments while correcting some biases to which they are prone. This approach is applied to two tasks that experts are often required to perform in the context of forecasting and in the service of decision making: the prediction of values and the assessment of confidence intervals. The analysis of these judgments reveals two major biases: non-regressiveness of predictions and overconfidence. Both biases are traced to people's tendency to give insufficient weight to certain types of information, e.g., the base-rate frequency of outcomes and their predictability. The corrective procedures described in this paper are designed to elicit from experts relevant information which they would normally neglect, and to help them integrate this information with their intuitive impressions in a manner that respects basic principles of statistical prediction.
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According to a social judgeability analysis, a crucial determinant of impression formation is the extent to which people feel entitled to judge a target person. Two experiments, with a total of 113 undergraduates, tested the impact of the subjective availability of individuating information on a social judgment independent of its actual presence. In Exp 1, Ss made a stereotypical judgment when they believed individuating information was present even if no information was in fact given. In Exp 2, Ss who thought they received individuating information made more extreme and confident judgments than Ss who thought they received category information. This indicates that Ss' judgments were not simply a function of implicit demand: The illusion of receiving individuating information led Ss to believe they possessed the necessary evidence for legitimate decision making. This result supports the existence of rules in the social inference process. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
In Study 1, over 200 college students estimated how much their own chance of experiencing 42 events differed from the chances of their classmates. Overall, Ss rated their own chances to be significantly above average for positive events and below average for negative events. Cognitive and motivational considerations led to predictions that degree of desirability, perceived probability, personal experience, perceived controllability, and stereotype salience would influence the amount of optimistic bias evoked by different events. All predictions were supported, although the pattern of effects differed for positive and negative events. Study 2 with 120 female undergraduates from Study 1 tested the idea that people are unrealistically optimistic because they focus on factors that improve their own chances of achieving desirable outcomes and fail to realize that others may have just as many factors in their favor. Ss listed the factors that they thought influenced their own chances of experiencing 8 future events. When such lists were read by a 2nd group of Ss, the amount of unrealistic optimism shown by this 2nd group for the same 8 events decreased significantly, although it was not eliminated. (22 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Experiments testing the self-serving bias (SSB; taking credit for personal success but blaming external factors for personal failure) have used a multitude of moderators (i.e., role, task importance, outcome expectancies, self-esteem, achievement motivation, self-focused attention, task choice, perceived task difficulty, interpersonal orientation, status, affect, locus of control, gender, and task type). The present meta-analytic review established the viability and pervasiveness of the SSB and, more important, organized the 14 moderators just listed under the common theoretical umbrella of self-threat. According to the self-threat model, the high self-threat level of each moderator is associated with a larger display of the SSB than the low self-threat level. The model was supported: Self-threat magnifies the SSB. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The authors argue that self-image maintenance processes play an important role in stereotyping and prejudice. Three studies demonstrated that when individuals evaluated a member of a stereotyped group, they were less likely to evaluate that person negatively if their self-images had been bolstered through a self-affirmation procedure, and they were more likely to evaluate that person stereotypically if their self-images had been threatened by negative feedback. Moreover, among those individuals whose self-image had been threatened, derogating a stereotyped target mediated an increase in their self-esteem. The authors suggest that stereotyping and prejudice may be a common means to maintain one's self-image, and they discuss the role of self-image-maintenance processes in the context of motivational, sociocultural, and cognitive approaches to stereotyping and prejudice. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Tested the hypothesis that an experience that simply affirms a valued aspect of the self can eliminate dissonance and its accompanying cognitive changes. Three experiments were conducted using the conventional forced-compliance procedure. In Study 1, some of the 76 college student Ss were allowed to affirm an important, self-relevant value (by completing a self-relevant value scale) immediately after having written unrelated dissonant essays and prior to recording their attitudes on the postmeasure. Other Ss underwent an identical procedure but were selected so that the value affirmed by the scale was not part of their self-concept. The value scale eliminated dissonance-reducing attitude change among Ss for whom it was self-relevant but not among Ss for whom it was not self-relevant. This occurred even though the value scale could not resolve or reduce the objective importance of the dissonance-provoking inconsistency. Study 2, conducted with 24 Ss with a strong economic and political value orientation, showed that the self-affirmation effect was strong enough to prevent the reinstatement of dissonance. Study 3, testing generalizability with 24 Ss, replicated the effect by using a different attitude issue, a different value for affirmation, and a different measure of dissonance reduction. Results imply that a need for psychological consistency is not part of dissonance motivation and that salient, self-affirming cognitions may help objectify reactions to self-threatening information. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Conducted a peer rating study ( N = 111) to determine the effects of (a) level of acquaintanceship between rater and target and (b) degree of public observability of rated personality traits on peers' perceptions of target personality characteristics. As hypothesized, I found the agreement between peer ratings and target self-ratings to vary linearly and directly with acquaintanceship. In addition, acquaintanceship interacted with observability such that the public visibility of the behavior domain being judged was an important determinant of agreement for low to moderately acquainted peer dyads but not for highly acquainted dyads. Contrary to expectations, however, trait observability did not show a main effect with regard to self–peer agreement. The basis of the study is described with reference to the lens model of inferential behavior, and implications of the results are discussed with reference to past and future attempts at evaluating consensus and accuracy in person perception. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
in this chapter we report a number of studies of what we call the uniqueness bias, the tendency for people to underestimate the proportion of people who can or will perform socially desirable actions / we will show that it [uniqueness bias] is constrained for particular kinds of behavior, specifically where the motivation to see oneself as better than others is low or where one's standing on the behaviors at issue are easily reality-tested (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The authors present and test a theory of temporal self-appraisal. According to the theory, people can maintain their typically favorable self-regard by disparaging their distant and complimenting their recent past selves. This pattern of appraisals should be stronger for more important attributes because of their greater impact on self-regard and stronger for self-ratings than for ratings of other people. Studies 1 and 2 demonstrated that participants are more critical of distant past selves than of current selves, and Study 3 showed that this effect is obtained even when concurrent evaluations indicate no actual improvement. Studies 4 and 5 revealed that people perceived greater improvement for self than for acquaintances and siblings over the same time period. Study 6 provided support for the predicted effects of temporal distance and attribute importance on people's evaluation of past selves.
Article
A series of studies tested whether people underestimate the likelihood that others will comply with their direct requests for help. In the first 3 studies, people underestimated by as much as 50% the likelihood that others would agree to a direct request for help, across a range of requests occurring in both experimental and natural field settings. Studies 4 and 5 demonstrated that experimentally manipulating a person’s perspective (as help seeker or potential helper) could elicit this underestimation effect. Finally, in Study 6, the authors explored the source of the bias, finding that help seekers were less willing than potential helpers were to appreciate the social costs of refusing a direct request for help (the costs of saying “no”), attending instead to the instrumental costs of helping (the costs of saying “yes”).
Article
A wide range of medical institutions have developed and implemented policies to mitigate the adverse consequences of conflicts of interest. These newly implemented policies, which include regulation of industry contact with physicians and hospitals, controls on gifts from industry, and greater transparency in industry sponsored activities, have generated considerable controversy. Formulating and evaluating policies in a neutral, unbiased fashion can be difficult for those personally affected. When people have a stake in an issue, they tend to process information in a selective fashion that supports their personal interests, a phenomenon known as “motivated reasoning.” When decision makers with preexisting opinions are exposed to information, they are inclined to selectively use the information to arrive at conclusions that justify their prior beliefs. When confronted with information that contradicts existing views, people evaluate it with greater skepticism. Additionally, once decision makers have reached a decision, they are likely to evaluate subsequent evidence in a biased manner that supports their decision.
Article
People see themselves as less susceptible to bias than others. We show that a source of this bias blind spot involves the value that people place, and believe they should place, on introspective information (relative to behavioral information) when assessing bias in themselves versus others. Participants considered introspective information more than behavioral information for assessing bias in themselves, but not others. This divergence did not arise simply from differences in introspective access. The blind spot persisted when observers had access to the introspections of the actor whose bias they judged. And, participants claimed that they, but not their peers, should rely on introspections when making self-assessments of bias. Only after being educated about the importance of nonconscious processes in guiding judgment and action—and thereby about the fallibility of introspection—did participants cease denying their relative susceptibility to bias.
Article
We suggest that people’s predictions of their future behavior overweight the strength of their current intentions, and underweight situational or contextual factors that influence the ease with which intentions are translated into action. As expected by this account, we find that self-predictions closely follow ratings of current intention strength, and that the actual probability of the behavior being predicted does not increase with intention strength to the extent implied by self-predictions (Study 1). We also find that manipulations designed to strengthen intentions to carry out a behavior have a larger impact on self-predictions than on the behavior being predicted (Studies 1 and 2), whereas a manipulation designed to influence the ease with which intentions are translated into behavior has a larger impact on actual behavior than on self-predictions (Study 2). Observers’ predictions of another’s behavior do not follow the same pattern (Study 3).
Article
Introspection involves looking inward into conscious thoughts, feelings, motives, and intentions. Modern social psychological research has raised questions about the value and reliability of information gained via introspection. This chapter concerns people's heavy weighting of introspective information for making self‐assessments. It also concerns a few principles associated with that weighting—that is, that it does not extend to how people treat others' introspections, that it can lead people to disregard information conveyed by their own (but not others') behavior, and that it is rooted not only in people's unique access to their introspections but also in the unique value they place on them. Over‐valuing of personal introspections occurs in a variety of domains, including judgment and decision making, personal relationships, and stereotyping and prejudice. An understanding of it sheds light on theoretical concerns involving the actor–observer bias, self‐enhancement, temporal distance effects, and the perception of free will. People's unique valuing of their introspections likely has deep roots, but this “introspection illusion” also causes problems. It can foster conflict, discrimination, lapses in ethics, and barriers to self‐knowledge and social intimacy. Understanding its sources and effects may help alleviate some of those problems.
Article
People tend to overestimate their comparative likelihood of experiencing a rosy future. The present research suggests that one reason for this error is that when people compare their likelihood of experiencing an event with that of the average person, they focus on their own chances of experiencing the event and insufficiently consider the likelihood of the average person experiencing the event. As a consequence, people tend to think that they are more likely than the average person to experience common events and less likely than the average person to experience rare events. This causes unrealistic optimism in the case of common desirable events and rare undesirable events, but unrealistic pessimism in the case of rare desirable events and common undesirable events (Studies 1 and 2). Study 2 further suggests that both egocentrism and focalism underlie these biases. These results suggest that unrealistic optimism is not as ubiquitous as once thought.
Article
Behavioral scientists routinely publish broad claims about human psychology and behavior in the world's top journals based on samples drawn entirely from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies. Researchers - often implicitly - assume that either there is little variation across human populations, or that these "standard subjects" are as representative of the species as any other population. Are these assumptions justified? Here, our review of the comparative database from across the behavioral sciences suggests both that there is substantial variability in experimental results across populations and that WEIRD subjects are particularly unusual compared with the rest of the species - frequent outliers. The domains reviewed include visual perception, fairness, cooperation, spatial reasoning, categorization and inferential induction, moral reasoning, reasoning styles, self-concepts and related motivations, and the heritability of IQ. The findings suggest that members of WEIRD societies, including young children, are among the least representative populations one could find for generalizing about humans. Many of these findings involve domains that are associated with fundamental aspects of psychology, motivation, and behavior - hence, there are no obvious a priori grounds for claiming that a particular behavioral phenomenon is universal based on sampling from a single subpopulation. Overall, these empirical patterns suggests that we need to be less cavalier in addressing questions of human nature on the basis of data drawn from this particularly thin, and rather unusual, slice of humanity. We close by proposing ways to structurally re-organize the behavioral sciences to best tackle these challenges.