Article

Less Evil Than You: Bounded Self-Righteousness in Character Inferences, Emotional Reactions, and Behavioral Extremes

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

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.”

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... This strong motivation to uphold a moral self-image can give rise to motivated biases in people's moral evaluations (Ditto, Pizarro, & Tannenbaum, 2009;Klein & Epley, 2017). Indeed, people demonstrate a notable flexibility in their moral judgment and oftentimes process information in a manner that confirms their preferred conclusions about the morality or immorality of certain behaviors (Haidt, 2001;Shalvi, Gino, Barkan, & Ayal, 2015). ...
... Recent research found that people predict themselves to be less capable of and to feel worse after behaving immorally, compared with other persons. This self-righteousness effect stems from an asymmetrical perception of intentions: People tend to perceive their own intentions as more ethical-even when they behave unethically (Klein & Epley, 2017). Importantly, under distrust, this tendency should be even increased, promoting hypocrisy in moral judgments of transgressions. ...
... We also focused on evaluations of immoral behaviors. Even though hypocrisy has been found for prosocial behaviors as well (Polman & Ruttan, 2012), we speculate that distrust predominantly affects moral standards for transgressions: There is a generally greater self-other dissociation in the immoral domain that is based on asymmetrical perceptions of intentions that distrust, in turn, should amplify (Gollwitzer et al., 2013;Klein & Epley, 2017). ...
Article
Full-text available
People do not trust hypocrites, because they preach water, but drink wine. The current research shows that, ironically, when we distrust, we become moral hypocrites ourselves. We argue that experiencing distrust alerts us to the possibility that others may intent to exploit us, and that such looming exploitation differentially affects moral standards for the self versus others. Four studies (N = 1,225) examined this possibility and its underlying motivational dynamic. Study 1 established a relationship between dispositional distrust and flexible, self-serving moral cognition. In Studies 2 and 3, participants experiencing distrust (vs. trust) endorsed more lenient moral standards for themselves than for others. Study 4 explored the role of the motivation to avoid exploitation in these effects. Specifically, participants’ dispositional victim sensitivity moderated the effect of distrust on hypocrisy. Together, these findings suggest that individuals who distrust and fear to be exploited show self-serving, and hence untrustworthy, moral cognition themselves.
... This strong motivation to uphold a moral self-image can give rise to motivated biases in people's moral evaluations (Ditto, Pizarro, & Tannenbaum, 2009;Klein & Epley, 2017). Indeed, people demonstrate a notable flexibility in their moral judgment and oftentimes process information in a manner that confirms their preferred conclusions about the morality or immorality of certain behaviors (Haidt, 2001;Shalvi, Gino, Barkan, & Ayal, 2015). ...
... Recent research found that people predict themselves to be less capable of and to feel worse after behaving immorally, compared with other persons. This self-righteousness effect stems from an asymmetrical perception of intentions: People tend to perceive their own intentions as more ethical-even when they behave unethically (Klein & Epley, 2017). Importantly, under distrust, this tendency should be even increased, promoting hypocrisy in moral judgments of transgressions. ...
... We also focused on evaluations of immoral behaviors. Even though hypocrisy has been found for prosocial behaviors as well (Polman & Ruttan, 2012), we speculate that distrust predominantly affects moral standards for transgressions: There is a generally greater self-other dissociation in the immoral domain that is based on asymmetrical perceptions of intentions that distrust, in turn, should amplify (Gollwitzer et al., 2013;Klein & Epley, 2017). ...
Article
Full-text available
A growing literature suggests that generalized distrust mindsets encourage carefully considering alternatives-yet it remains unclear whether this pertains to moral decision making. We propose that distrust simultaneously increases opposing moral response inclinations when moral decisions pit two moral responses against one another, such as classic moral dilemmas where causing harm maximizes outcomes. Such a pattern may be invisible to conventional analytic techniques that treat dilemma response inclinations as diametric opposites. Therefore, we employed process dissociation to independently assess response inclinations underlying moral dilemma responses. Three studies demonstrated that activating generalized distrust (vs. trust and control) mindsets increased both harm avoidance and outcome- maximization response tendencies. These effects canceled out for conventional relative dilemma judgments. Moreover, perceptions of feeling torn between available response options mediated the impact of distrust on both response inclinations. These findings clarify how distrust impacts decision-making processes in the moral domain.
... We constantly compare ourselves to others as we form our identities and judgments (e.g., John & Robins, 1994;Klein & Epley, 2017;Schwartz, 2005). In adulthood, judgment becomes more nuanced, but evaluation of relative rank persists. ...
... Further, the question of whether and how East Asians self-enhance has been controversial (Church et al., 2014;Falk & Heine, 2015;Falk, Heine, Yuki, & Takemura, 2009;Yamaguchi et al., 2007). Other plausible explanations include asymmetric self-righteousness (Klein & Epley, 2017), differences in metacognitive skills (Krueger & Mueller, 2002;Kruger & Dunning, 2002), and the difficulty effect (Burson et al., 2006). The better-than-average effect seems to apply mostly to difficulty levels at the low end of the distribution. ...
... Ample psychological evidence also supports a dualnatured concept of elitism, albeit in non-fan groups. For example, outgroup derogation can be demonstrated in research showing that people are motivated to view others more negatively than they view themselves (Klein and Epley 2017) and that these downward social comparisons bolster self-esteem (Buunk et al. 2002;Morse and Gergen 1970). As for self-inflation, social identity theory argues that people seek membership in exclusive positive groups to enhance their self-esteem (Jetten et al. 1996;Tajfel and Turner 1979). ...
... First (H1), based on research showing that downward social comparisons and otherderogation bolster self-esteem (e.g. Morse and Gergen 1970;Klein and Epley 2017) and research showing that people are motivated to belong to positive, distinct groups (e.g. Jetten et al. 1996;Hogg et al. 1990), we expect to find both other-derogation and self-inflation in fans, which should be modestly correlated because both likely bolster self-esteem. ...
Article
In the present article we discuss three studies aimed at better understanding elitism in the context of fan groups. The studies assess different facets of elitism, predictors of elitism and the potential outcomes associated with holding elitist beliefs. The survey studies were conducted on members of three distinct fan groups: furries (fans of media featuring anthropomorphized animal characters), bronies (adult fans of the television series My Little Pony) and anime fans (fans of Japanese animation). Elitism was found to include both self-inflation and other-derogation and is predicted by two components of fan identity (fanship and fandom). Elitism was also significantly associated with pro-gatekeeping attitudes and behaviours. Practical and theoretical implications for fan culture are discussed. We also discuss the limitations of the studies and their ability to contribute to a discussion about creating inclusive fan spaces.
... This focus on the self supports the view that self-righteousness has an aspect of narcissism (Lax 1975), which has been shown to be negatively related to ethical attitudes and behavior (Brown et al. 2010). Klein and Epley (2017) identified that self-righteous individuals are more likely to make negative character ascriptions from others' unethical behavior than their own unethical behavior. Furthermore, self-righteous individuals also believe that they are less capable of unethical actions than others (Klein and Epley 2017). ...
... Klein and Epley (2017) identified that self-righteous individuals are more likely to make negative character ascriptions from others' unethical behavior than their own unethical behavior. Furthermore, self-righteous individuals also believe that they are less capable of unethical actions than others (Klein and Epley 2017). These findings indicate that self-righteous individuals can justify unethical attitudes and behaviors. ...
Article
Full-text available
The current research investigates how religiosity can influence unethicality in a consumption context. In particular, considering the link between extrinsic religious orientations and unethicality, this research clarifies why and when extrinsic religiosity leads to unethical decisions. Across two studies, findings show that ethnocentrism is both a mediator (Study 1) and a moderator (Studies 1 and 2) of the effects of extrinsic religiosity on consumers’ ethical judgments. This is because extrinsic religiosity leads to ethnocentrism, and in-group loyalty manifested through ethnocentrism increases support for unethical consumer actions, thus establishing ethnocentrism as a mediator. At the same time, different levels of ethnocentrism can also influence how extrinsic religiosity leads to supporting unethical consumption via self-righteousness, thus establishing ethnocentrism as a moderator. The findings from this research have significant implications for diverse stakeholders who have an interest in religiosity and consumer behavior.
... Reliance on different sources of information for judgments of the self and others greatly contributes to these overly positive self-views. For example, consider people's tendency to believe that they are generally more moral than those around them and, in particular, that they are less likely to act immorally than even relatively similar peers (Epley & Dunning, 2000;Klein & Epley, 2017). This selfrighteousness emerges because people rely on introspection when predicting their own behavior, whereas they rely on external information such as behavior and base rates to predict the behavior of others. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter concerns the divergent processes by which people come to know themselves and other people and the resulting consequences. People come to know themselves (or come to gain intrapersonal knowledge ) primarily by looking inward to internal thoughts, feelings, and motives (i.e., by introspecting ). They come to know others (or come to gain interpersonal knowledge ) primarily by looking outward to observable behaviors (i.e., by extrospecting ). These different processes for gaining knowledge lead to important differences in what people believe about themselves versus others. Importantly, the divergent routes of introspection and extrospection lead people to see others as biased and themselves as “right”—especially when the self and other disagree in their perceptions and beliefs. This bias blind spot gives rise to intellectual arrogance and escalates interpersonal conflict. The differing epistemological routes of introspection and extrospection do not always lead people to feel better about themselves than others, however. For example, people may view themselves as uniquely prone to worry, uniquely motivated by fear of embarrassment, and uniquely subject to deviant thoughts—all as a result of their reliance on introspection for assessing themselves but extrospection for assessing others.
Article
Background People deceive online. There is, however, mixed evidence about whether people present themselves falsely on Facebook. We investigated to what extent people present their true selves on Facebook. As generally, people estimate their own behavior as ‘less evil’ than the behaviors of others, we also assessed people’s estimations of whether other people present their true selves on Facebook. Methods In two studies (n=94, n=189), participants filled in a survey asking them to report how frequently and intensely they falsely present themselves on Facebook and in which ways. They were also asked to estimate this for other Facebook users. Results The results showed that the majority of participants were not always honest on Facebook regarding their personality, unbeneficial information, and emotional state. A minority of participants provided false information in comments. We also obtained the ‘less deceptive than thou’ effect: Participants estimated that others more frequently and intensively engage in deception. Conclusion The current research has led to new findings showing that the majority of the participants engage in deceptive self-presentational behavior and estimate others to be more deceptive than they are.
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.
Preprint
Full-text available
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.
Article
Full-text available
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.
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.
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).
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.
Chapter
Financial dependencies and advertising tactics have the potential to erode the independence of medical professionals and influence their clinical decisions. Described in Chaps. 2 and 3, most of the literature on undue pharmaceutical industry influence in medicine discusses unethical marketing practices and how doctors are either bribed by companies or seduced by sales representatives. Since most research focuses on individual greed as the basis for corruption and bribery, most laws and regulations seeking to curtail industry influence concentrate on legally making transparent, minimizing or prohibiting exchanges of money between companies and individual physicians. While rules that curtail financial ties and constrain advertising practices are an important step towards minimizing industry influence and maintaining medical professional independence, the regulations have fallen short in that financial relationships between doctors and pharmaceutical companies prevail, if only being hidden by physicians and the industry alike.
Article
Full-text available
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.
Article
Full-text available
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.
Article
This paper proposes four comprehensive institutional measures for countering epistemic injustice. Driven by the distinction between transactional and structural injustice, we argue that approaches which call for individual virtue overlook the social inequalities that reproduce unjust epistemic relationships. The task of remedying epistemic injustice, therefore, falls upon institutions. First, we review recent empirical research to show why the virtue theoretical model fails to address even transactional instances of epistemic injustice. We then argue that, due to unequal access to education, seemingly justified ascriptions of trust can entrench differential epistemic development. We have limited our proposal to four measures that shield vulnerable groups against injustice and improve the epistemic environment. Institutional epistemic justice demands that, first, all groups enjoy fair and equal access to education and the opportunity to acquire the socially recognized markers of credibility. Second, epistemic justice requires that marginalized groups have access to the relevant public platforms, such as politics and journalism, for voicing their social perspectives. Third, fair access to public positions can aid vulnerable groups in attaining rewarding careers, publicly affirming their epistemic resources, and rupturing the cycle of epistemic disadvantage. As our fourth and final measure, we propose institutional mechanisms for eliminating identity markers from formal epistemic exchanges.
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.
Article
Full-text available
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.
Article
Full-text available
Cultures differ in many important ways, but one trait appears to be universally valued: prosociality. For one’s reputation, around the world, it pays to be nice to others. However, recent research with American participants finds that evaluations of prosocial actions are asymmetric—relatively selfish actions are evaluated according to the magnitude of selfishness but evaluations of relatively generous actions are less sensitive to magnitude. Extremely generous actions are judged roughly as positively as modestly generous actions, but extremely selfish actions are judged much more negatively than modestly selfish actions (Klein & Epley, 2014). Here we test whether this asymmetry in evaluations of prosociality is culture-specific. Across 7 countries, 1,240 participants evaluated actors giving various amounts of money to a stranger. Along with relatively minor cross-cultural differences in evaluations of generous actions, we find cross-cultural similarities in the asymmetry in evaluations of prosociality. We discuss implications for how reputational inferences can enable the cooperation necessary for successful societies.
Article
Full-text available
Reproducibility is a defining feature of science, but the extent to which it characterizes current research is unknown. We conducted replications of 100 experimental and correlational studies published in three psychology journals using high-powered designs and original materials when available. Replication effects were half the magnitude of original effects, representing a substantial decline. Ninety-seven percent of original studies had statistically significant results. Thirty-six percent of replications had statistically significant results; 47% of original effect sizes were in the 95% confidence interval of the replication effect size; 39% of effects were subjectively rated to have replicated the original result; and if no bias in original results is assumed, combining original and replication results left 68% with statistically significant effects. Correlational tests suggest that replication success was better predicted by the strength of original evidence than by characteristics of the original and replication teams.
Article
Full-text available
We examine experimentally how Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) respond to incentives and how they provide incentives in situations requiring trust and trustworthiness. As a control we compare the behavior of CEOs with the behavior of students. We find that CEOs are considerably more trusting and exhibit more trustworthiness than students—thus reaching substantially higher efficiency levels than students. Moreover, we find that, for CEOs as well as for students, incentives based on explicit threats to penalize shirking backfire by inducing less trustworthy behavior—giving rise to hidden costs of incentives. However, thxe availability of penalizing incentives also creates hidden returns: if a principal expresses trust by voluntarily refraining from implementing the punishment threat, the agent exhibits significantly more trustworthiness than if the punishment threat is not available. Thus trust seems to reinforce trustworthy behavior. Overall, trustworthiness is highest if the threat to punish is available but not used, while it is lowest if the threat to punish is used. Paradoxically, however, most CEOs and students use the punishment threat, although CEOs use it significantly less. (JEL: C91, C92, J30, J41)
Article
Full-text available
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).
Article
Full-text available
The authors discuss the problem with failing to sample stimuli in social psychological experimentation. Although commonly construed as an issue for external validity, the authors emphasize how failure to sample stimuli also can threaten construct validity. They note some circumstances where the need for stimulus sampling is less obvious and more obvious, and they discuss some well-known cognitive biases that can contribute to the failure of researchers to see the need for stimulus sampling. Data are presented from undergraduate students (N = 106), graduate students (N = 72), and psychology faculty (N = 48) showing insensitivity to the need for stimulus sampling except when the problem is made rather obvious. Finally, some of the statistical implications of stimulus sampling with particular concern for power, effect size estimates, and data analysis strategies are noted.
Article
Full-text available
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)
Article
Full-text available
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)
Article
Full-text available
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)
Article
Full-text available
Many written forms required by businesses and governments rely on honest reporting. Proof of honest intent is typically provided through signature at the end of, e.g., tax returns or insurance policy forms. Still, people sometimes cheat to advance their financial self-interests-at great costs to society. We test an easy-to-implement method to discourage dishonesty: signing at the beginning rather than at the end of a self-report, thereby reversing the order of the current practice. Using laboratory and field experiments, we find that signing beforerather than afterthe opportunity to cheat makes ethics salient when they are needed most and significantly reduces dishonesty.
Article
Full-text available
Prior research documents that cynical individuals report receiving inferior social support, in terms of both quality and amount. The current study extends these findings by examining how cynicism impacts both the provision and receipt of social support during a national tragedy. Specifically, this work investigates the premise that cynicism predicts the provision and receipt of less sympathetic responses, but also more callous or negative responses. Participants responded to a cynicism measure and a series of open-ended questions pertaining to their interactions with close others on the day of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Point-biserial correlations indicated that cynicism predicted both the provision of less sympathetic support as well as the receipt of both less sympathetic and more explicitly calloused responses.
Article
Full-text available
Dishonesty plays a large role in the economy. Causes for (dis)honest behavior seem to be based partially on external rewards, and partially on internal rewards. Here, we investigate how such external and internal rewards work in concert to produce (dis)honesty. We propose and test a theory of self-concept maintenance that allows people to engage to some level in dishonest behavior, thereby benefiting from external benefits of dishonesty, while maintaining their positive view about themselves in terms of being honest individuals. The results show that (1) given the opportunity to engage in beneficial dishonesty, people will engage in such behaviors; (2) the amount of dishonesty is largely insensitive to either the expected external benefits or the costs associated with the deceptive acts; (3) people know about their actions but do not update their self-concepts; (4) causing people to become more aware of their internal standards for honesty decreases their tendency for deception; and (5) increasing the "degrees of freedom" that people have to interpret their actions increases their tendency for deception. We suggest that dishonesty governed by self-concept maintenance is likely to be prevalent in the economy, and understanding it has important implications for designing effective methods to curb dishonesty.Former working paper titles:“(Dis)Honesty: A Combination of Internal and External Rewards” and "Almost Honest: Internal and External Motives for Honesty")
Article
Full-text available
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.
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we accomplish two things. First, we show that despite empirical psychologists' nominal endorsement of a low rate of false-positive findings (≤ .05), flexibility in data collection, analysis, and reporting dramatically increases actual false-positive rates. In many cases, a researcher is more likely to falsely find evidence that an effect exists than to correctly find evidence that it does not. We present computer simulations and a pair of actual experiments that demonstrate how unacceptably easy it is to accumulate (and report) statistically significant evidence for a false hypothesis. Second, we suggest a simple, low-cost, and straightforwardly effective disclosure-based solution to this problem. The solution involves six concrete requirements for authors and four guidelines for reviewers, all of which impose a minimal burden on the publication process.
Article
Full-text available
An accurate assessment of an individual often requires taking their potential into account. Across six studies the authors found that people are more inclined to do so when evaluating themselves than when evaluating others, such that people credit themselves for their perceived potential more than they credit others for theirs. Participants rated potential as a more telling component of the self than of others, and the importance participants placed on their own potential led to attentional biases toward information about their own future potential that did not apply to information about the potential of others. Furthermore, when assessing themselves and other people, participants required more tangible proof that someone else has a given level of potential than they required of themselves, and they relied more on how they would ideally perform in self-assessment but more on how others actually performed in judging them.
Article
Full-text available
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.
Article
Full-text available
People tend to grossly underestimate the trustworthiness of other people. We tested whether this cynicism grows out of an asymmetry in the feedback people receive when they decide to trust others. When people trust others, they painfully learn when other people prove to be untrustworthy; however, when people refrain from trusting others, they fail to learn of instances when the other person would have honored their trust. Participants saw short videos of other people and had to decide whether to trust each person in an economic game. Participants overall underestimated the trustworthiness of the people they viewed, regardless of whether they were given financial incentives to provide accurate estimates. However, people who received symmetric feedback about the trustworthiness of others (i.e., who received feedback regardless of their own decision to trust) exhibited reduced cynicism relative to those who received no feedback or asymmetric feedback (i.e., who received feedback only after they trusted the other person).
Article
Full-text available
We examine experimentally how Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) respond to incentives and how they provide incentives in situations requiring trust and trustworthiness. As a control we compare the behavior of CEOs with the behavior of students. We find that CEOs are considerably more trusting and exhibit more trustworthiness than students – thus reaching substantially higher efficiency levels than students. Moreover, we find that, for CEOs as well as for students, incentives based on explicit threats to penalize shirking backfire by inducing less trustworthy behavior – giving rise to hidden costs of incentives. However, the availability of penalizing incentives also creates hidden returns: if a principal expresses trust by voluntarily refraining from implementing the punishment threat, the agent exhibits significantly more trustworthiness than if the punishment threat is not available. Thus trust seems to reinforce trustworthy behavior. Overall, trustworthiness is highest if the threat to punish is available but not used, while it is lowest if the threat to punish is used. Paradoxically, however, most CEOs and students use the punishment threat, although CEOs use it significantly less.
Article
Full-text available
In Studies 1-8, participants judged an anonymous student as better than the average student, as above the group median, and as better than most other students on a variety of desirable traits. This effect was retained when name and age were removed and student ID number was the only individuating feature, when both the average student and the anonymous student were provide with a first name, and when the order of presentation was reversed. However, the effect was reduced when an enriched version of the average student was provided. In Study 9, an anonymous member of a highly disliked out-group was judged as worse than the out-group average member. These results indicate difficulty in comparing a singular target to a generalized target. A singular-target-focused model of comparative judgments is used to describe how people conduct these assessments.
Article
Full-text available
People typically believe they are more likely to engage in selfless, kind, and generous behaviors than their peers, a result that is both logically and statistically suspect. However, this oft-documented tendency presents an important ambiguity. Do people feel "holier than thou" because they harbor overly cynical views of their peers (but accurate impressions of themselves) or overly charitable views of themselves (and accurate impressions of their peers)? Four studies suggested it was the latter. Participants consistently overestimated the likelihood that they would act in generous or selfless ways, whereas their predictions of others were considerably more accurate. Two final studies suggest this divergence in accuracy arises, in part, because people are unwilling to consult population base rates when predicting their own behavior but use this diagnostic information more readily when predicting others'.
Article
Full-text available
The actor-observer hypothesis (E. E. Jones & R. E. Nisbett, 1971) states that people tend to explain their own behavior with situation causes and other people's behavior with person causes. Widely known in psychology, this asymmetry has been described as robust, firmly established, and pervasive. However, a meta-analysis on 173 published studies revealed average effect sizes from d = -0.016 to d = 0.095. A moderator analysis showed that the asymmetry held only when the actor was portrayed as highly idiosyncratic, when hypothetical events were explained, when actor and observer were intimates, or when free-response explanations were coded. In addition, the asymmetry held for negative events, but a reverse asymmetry held for positive events. This valence effect may indicate a self-serving pattern in attribution, but across valence, no actor-observer asymmetry exists.
Article
Full-text available
Traditional attribution theory conceptualizes explanations of behavior as referring to either dispositional or situational causes. An alternative approach, the folk-conceptual theory of behavior explanation, distinguishes multiple discrete modes of explanation and specific features within each mode. Because attribution theory and the folk-conceptual theory carve up behavior explanations in distinct ways, they offer very different predictions about actor-observer asymmetries. Six studies, varying in contexts and methodologies, pit the 2 sets of predictions against each other. There was no evidence for the traditional actor-observer hypothesis, but systematic support was found for the actor-observer asymmetries hypothesized by the folk-conceptual theory. The studies also provide initial evidence for the processes that drive each of the asymmetries: impression management goals, general knowledge, and copresence.
Article
Full-text available
A meta-analysis of published cross-cultural studies of self-enhancement reveals pervasive and pronounced differences between East Asians and Westerners. Across 91 comparisons, the average cross-cultural effect was d = .84. The effect emerged in all 30 methods, except for comparisons of implicit self-esteem. Within cultures, Westerners showed a clear self-serving bias (d = .87), whereas East Asians did not (d = -.01), with Asian Americans falling in between (d = .52). East Asians did self-enhance in the methods that involved comparing themselves to average but were self-critical in other methods. It was hypothesized that this inconsistency could be explained in that these methods are compromised by the "everyone is better than their group's average effect" (EBTA). Supporting this rationale, studies that were implicated by the EBTA reported significantly larger self-enhancement effect for all cultures compared to other studies. Overall, the evidence converges to show that East Asians do not self-enhance.
Article
Full-text available
People report themselves to be above average on simple tasks and below average on difficult tasks. This paper proposes an explanation for this effect that is simpler than prior explanations. The new explanation is that people conflate relative with absolute evaluation, especially on subjective measures. The paper then presents a series of four studies that test this conflation explanation. These tests distinguish conflation from other explanations, such as differential weighting and selecting the wrong referent. The results suggest that conflation occurs at the response stage during which people attempt to disambiguate subjective response scales in order to choose an answer. This is because conflation has little effect on objective measures, which would be equally affected if the conflation occurred at encoding.
Article
Upon observing another's socially constrained behavior, people often ascribe to the person an attitude that corresponds to the behavior (called the correspondence bias [CB]). The authors found that when a socially constrained behavior is still diagnostic of the actor's attitude, both Americans and Japanese show an equally strong CB. A major cultural difference occurred when the behavior was minimally diagnostic. Demonstrating their persistent bias toward dispositional attribution, Americans showed a strong CB. But Japanese did not show any CB (Study 1). Furthermore, a mediational analysis revealed that this cross-cultural difference was due in part to the nature of explicit inferences generated online during attitudinal judgment (Study 2). Implications for the cultural grounding of social perception are discussed.
Article
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.
Article
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.”
Article
Based on the existing literature on worldview beliefs, cynical hostility, and Machiavellian cynicism, we suggest that holding cynical beliefs about human nature can be detrimental for individuals' income. Cynical individuals are more likely to avoid cooperation and trust or to overinvest in monitoring, control, and other means of protection from potential exploitation. As a result, they are more likely to forgo valuable opportunities for cooperation and consequently less likely to reap the benefits of joint efforts and mutual help compared with their less cynical counterparts. Studies 1 and 2, using nationally representative longitudinal surveys of the American population, show that individuals who endorsed cynical beliefs about human nature at baseline earned comparatively lower incomes 9 (Study 1) and 2 (Study 2) years later. In Study 3, applying a multilevel model of change to a nationally representative panel study of the German population, we show that cynical beliefs at baseline undermined an income increase in the course of the following 9 years. In Study 4, the negative effect of cynical beliefs on income proved to be independent of individual differences in the Big Five personality dimensions. Study 5 provided the first tentative evidence of the hypothesized mechanism underlying this effect. Using survey data from 41 countries, it revealed that the negative effect of cynical beliefs on income is alleviated in sociocultural contexts with low levels of prosocial behavior, high homicide rates and high overall societal cynicism levels. Holding cynical beliefs about others has negative economic outcomes unless such beliefs hold true. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
People routinely remember events that have passed and imagine those that are yet to come. The past and the future are sometimes psychologically close ("just around the corner") and other times psychologically distant ("ages away"). Four studies demonstrate a systematic asymmetry whereby future events are psychologically closer than past events of equivalent objective distance. When considering specific times (e.g., 1 year) or events (e.g., Valentine's Day), people consistently reported that the future was closer than the past. We suggest that this asymmetry arises because the subjective experience of movement through time (whereby future events approach and past events recede) is analogous to the physical experience of movement through space. Consistent with this hypothesis, experimentally reversing the metaphorical arrow of time (by having participants move backward through virtual space) completely eliminated the past-future asymmetry. We discuss how reducing psychological distance to the future may function to prepare people for upcoming action.
Article
Early research and teaching on ethics focused either on a moral development perspective or on philosophical approaches and used a normative approach by focusing on the question of how people should act when resolving ethical dilemmas. In this article, we briefly describe the traditional approach to ethics and then present a (biased) review of the behavioral approach to ethics. We define behavioral ethics as the study of systematic and predictable ways in which individuals make ethical decisions and judge the ethical decisions of others when these decisions are at odds with intuition and the benefits of the broader society. By focusing on a descriptive rather than a normative approach to ethics, behavioral ethics is better suited than traditional approaches to addressing the increasing demand from society for a deeper understanding of what causes even good people to cross ethical boundaries.
Article
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
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
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
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
Altruism and cynicism are two fundamental algorithms of moral decision-making. This derives from the evolution of cooperative behavior and reciprocal altruism and the need to avoid being taken advantage of. Rushton (1986) developed a self-report scale to measure altruism, however no scale to measure cynicism has been developed for use in ethics research. Following a discussion of reciprocal altruism and cynicism, this article presents an 11-item self-report scale to measure cynicism, developed and validated using a sample of 271 customer-service and sales personnel.
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
Logically, an unethical behavior performed yesterday should also be unethical if performed tomorrow. However, the present studies suggest that the timing of a transgression has a systematic effect on people's beliefs about its moral acceptability. Because people's emotional reactions tend to be more extreme for future events than for past events, and because such emotional reactions often guide moral intuitions, judgments of moral behavior may be more extreme in prospect than in retrospect. In 7 studies, participants judged future bad deeds more negatively, and future good deeds more positively, than equivalent behavior in the equidistant past. In addition, participants thought that future unfair actions deserved more punishment than past unfair actions, and were more willing to sacrifice their own financial gain to be treated fairly in the future compared with in the past. These patterns were explained in part by the stronger emotions that were evoked by thoughts of future events than by thoughts of past events. Taken together, the results suggest that permission for actions with ethical connotations may be harder to get than forgiveness for those same actions, and demonstrate a systematic way in which moral judgments of the same action are inconsistent across time.
Article
The dictator game represents a workhorse within experimental economics, frequently used to test theory and to provide insights into the prevalence of social preferences. This study explores more closely the dictator game and the literature’s preferred interpretation of its meaning by collecting data from nearly 200 dictators across treatments that varied the action set and the origin of endowment. The action set variation includes choices in which the dictator can “take†money from the other player. Empirical results question the received interpretation of dictator game giving: many fewer agents are willing to transfer money when the action set includes taking. Yet, a result that holds regardless of action set composition is that agents do not ubiquitously choose the most selfish outcome. The results have implications for theoretical models of social preferences, highlight that “institutions†matter a great deal, and point to useful avenues for future research using simple dictator games and relevant manipulations.
Article
Unlike economic exchange, social exchange has no well-defined "value." It is based on the norm of reciprocity, in which giving and taking are to be repaid in equivalent measure. Although giving and taking are colloquially assumed to be equivalent actions, we demonstrate that they produce different patterns of reciprocity. In five experiments utilizing a dictator game, people reciprocated in like measure to apparently prosocial acts of giving, but reciprocated more selfishly to apparently antisocial acts of taking, even when the objective outcomes of the acts of giving and taking were identical. Additional results demonstrate that acts of giving in social exchanges are perceived as more generous than objectively identical acts of taking, that taking tends to escalate, and that the asymmetry in reciprocity is not due to gaining versus losing resources. Reciprocity appears to operate on an exchange rate that assigns value to the meaning of events, in a fashion that encourages prosocial exchanges.
Article
It is proposed that motivation may affect reasoning through reliance on a biased set of cognitive processes--that is, strategies for accessing, constructing, and evaluating beliefs. The motivation to be accurate enhances use of those beliefs and strategies that are considered most appropriate, whereas the motivation to arrive at particular conclusions enhances use of those that are considered most likely to yield the desired conclusion. There is considerable evidence that people are more likely to arrive at conclusions that they want to arrive at, but their ability to do so is constrained by their ability to construct seemingly reasonable justifications for these conclusions. These ideas can account for a wide variety of research concerned with motivated reasoning.
Article
The correspondence bias is the tendency to draw inferences about a person's unique and enduring dispositions from behaviors that can be entirely explained by the situations in which they occur. Although this tendency is one of the most fundamental phenomena in social psychology, its causes and consequences remain poorly understood. This article sketches an intellectual history of the correspondence bias as an evolving problem in social psychology, describes 4 mechanisms (lack of awareness, unrealistic expectations, inflated categorizations, and incomplete corrections) that produce distinct forms of correspondence bias, and discusses how the consequences of correspondence-biased inferences may perpetuate such inferences.
Article
Self-serving biases, found routinely in Western samples, have not been observed in Asian samples. Yet given the orientation toward individualism and collectivism in these 2 cultures, respectively, it is imperative to examine whether parallel differences emerge when the target of evaluation is the group. It may be that Asians show a group-serving bias parallel to the Western self-serving bias. In 2 studies, group-serving biases were compared across European Canadian, Asian Canadian, and Japanese students. Study 1 revealed that Japanese students evaluated a family member less positively than did both groups of Canadian students. Study 2 replicated this pattern with students' evaluations of their universities. The data suggest that cultural differences in enhancement biases are robust, generalizing to individuals' evaluations of their groups.
Article
We examined how education and gender moderate the association of obesity with cynical hostility and depression. Body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), years of education, cynical hostility (CynDis), depression (Beck Depression Inventory) were examined in a cross-sectional study of 1,547 men and 1,814 women, aged 25-64. Education moderates the positive association between cynical distrust and obesity among women in a such way that cynical distrust was not related to BMI or WHR among highly educated women. Depression had a positive association with WHR after age and education among both genders and among women with BMI. Bivariate associations between psychological factors and obesity measures were similar among men and women. The results suggest the importance of examining socioeconomic status (SES) together with psychological factors related to obesity.
Article
Decision makers conduct biased predecision processing when they restructure their mental representation of the decision environment to favor one alternative before making their choice. The question of whether biased predecision processing occurs has been controversial since L. Festinger (1957) maintained that it does not occur. The author reviews relevant research in sections on theories of cognitive dissonance, decision conflict, choice certainty, action control, action phases, dominance structuring, differentiation and consolidation, constructive processing, motivated reasoning, and groupthink. Some studies did not find evidence of biased predecision processing, but many did. In the Discussion section, the moderators are summarized and used to assess the theories.
Article
The related traits of hostility, anger, and aggressiveness have long been suggested as risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD). Our prior review of this literature (Smith, 1992) found both considerable evidence in support of this hypothesis and important limitations that precluded firm conclusions. In the present review, we discuss recent research on the assessment of these traits, their association with CHD and longevity, and mechanisms possibly underlying the association. In doing so, we illustrate the value of the interpersonal tradition in personality psychology (Sullivan, 1953; Leary, 1957; Carson, 1969; Kiesler, 1996) for not only research on the health consequences of hostility, anger, and aggressiveness, but also for the general study of the effects of emotion, personality and other psychosocial characteristics on physical health.