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Self-Anchoring in Conversation: Why Language Users Do Not Do What They “Should”

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... Such correction processes are generally insufficient such that final judgments are influenced in the direction of the most readily accessible information. These process accounts are best known in domains of dispositional inference, belief formation, and social comparison (Gilbert, 1998 ) but have also been applied to judgmental anchoring (Epley, 2004), affective forecasting (Gilbert, Gill, & Wilson, 2002), overconfidence (Griffin & Tversky, 1992), self-assessment (Kruger, 1999), and a variety of egocentric biases in social cognition (Epley, Keysar, Van Boven, & Gilovich, 2004; Keysar & Barr, 2002). As a basic process of induction, anthropomorphism works through a similar process of starting with highly accessible knowledge structures as an anchor or inductive base that may be subsequently corrected and applied to a nonhuman target. ...
... This invariant feature of sensory apparati means that knowledge about human experience will be directly experienced and thus be acquired more easily, more completely, and more quickly than any knowledge (however indirect) about what it is like to be a nonhuman agent. Of course, this physical constraint applies to knowing what it is like to be another person as well, and research has repeatedly demonstrated that people make inferences about others' mental states by relying inordinately on their own mental states as a starting point for induction (e.g., Keysar & Barr, 2002; Nickerson, 1999 ). Using one's own mental states and characteristics as a guide when reasoning about other humans is egocentrism. ...
... A person's own knowledge and phenomenological experience are so automatically accessible and richly organized that they continue to serve as an automatic base for induction that needs to be overcome and corrected when reasoning about others, rather than being a childhood tendency that is outgrown. Insufficient correction of this egocentric base appears to explain, at least in part, the robustness of egocentric biases even among full-grown adults ( Epley, Morewedge, & Keysar, 2004; Keysar & Barr, 2002). Reducing either the motivation or cognitive capacity to engage in this effortful correction process increases egocentric biases in judgment, whereas increasing the motivation or capacity to engage in effortful correction reduces egocentric biases (). ...
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Anthropomorphism describes the tendency to imbue the real or imagined behavior of nonhuman agents with humanlike characteristics, motivations, intentions, or emotions. Although surprisingly common, anthropomorphism is not invariant. This article describes a theory to explain when people are likely to anthropomorphize and when they are not, focused on three psychological determinants--the accessibility and applicability of anthropocentric knowledge (elicited agent knowledge), the motivation to explain and understand the behavior of other agents (effectance motivation), and the desire for social contact and affiliation (sociality motivation). This theory predicts that people are more likely to anthropomorphize when anthropocentric knowledge is accessible and applicable, when motivated to be effective social agents, and when lacking a sense of social connection to other humans. These factors help to explain why anthropomorphism is so variable; organize diverse research; and offer testable predictions about dispositional, situational, developmental, and cultural influences on anthropomorphism. Discussion addresses extensions of this theory into the specific psychological processes underlying anthropomorphism, applications of this theory into robotics and human-computer interaction, and the insights offered by this theory into the inverse process of dehumanization.
... In addition, if readers eventually consider the message recipient's perspective, then beyond the initial disruption in comprehension on the target line in the Negative Event version, readers might not have any difficulty processing future references to the recipient's sincere-consistent beliefs. In conclusion, the current findings add to a growing body of evidence (Keysar, 1994; Weingartner & Klin, 2005) that people are not always accurate at estimating WHO KNOWS WHAT? 291 6 These conclusions fit nicely with Keysar's two-stage Perspective Adjustment model (Keysar & Barr, 2002; Keysar, Barr, Balin, & Paek, 1998; see also Anchoring and Adjustment model, e.g., Epley, Keysar, Van Boven, & Gilovich, 2004). Consistent with the idea of construal, in the first stage of the Perspective Adjustment model, readers' interpretation of a message is based on all of the information available to them. ...
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Recent findings (Keysar, 199420. Keysar , B. 1994 . The illusory transparency of intention: Linguistic perspective taking in text. . Cognitive Psychology , 26 : 165 – 208 . [CrossRef], [PubMed], [Web of Science ®], [CSA]View all references; Weingartner & Klin, 200534. Weingartner , K. M. and Klin , C. M. 2005 . Perspective taking during reading: An on-line investigation of the illusory transparency of intention. . Memory & Cognition , 33 : 48 – 58 . [CrossRef], [Web of Science ®]View all references) have shown that readers are not always accurate at taking a story character's perspective. When readers evaluated a character's understanding of a written message, they mistakenly took into account information that was inaccessible to that character. The results from the three experiments reported here demonstrate that this “illusory transparency of intention” is not dependent on the message readers' communicative role: Even when the message was composed for one character but read by another, readers assumed that the message was understood as it was intended. The results are discussed in the context of two theoretical accounts for these perspective-taking errors: the “knowledge projection hypothesis,” which appeals to readers’ expectations about cooperative behavior during communication, and “construal,” which attributes the illusory transparency of intention to a general cognitive bias that occurs during the perception of ambiguous stimuli.
... The same expression may be interpreted as either an insult or a compliment, as helpful or hurtful, as serious or sarcastic. Although listeners seem adept at decoding the underlying meaning of a speaker's ambiguous message (Keysar, 1994;Keysar & Barr, 2002), they may not be as adept as speakers think. Because speakers are aware of their own intentions, they may initially assume that their intentions are obvious and only subsequently adjust in a serial fashion to accommodate possible ambiguities. ...
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The authors propose that people adopt others' perspectives by serially adjusting from their own. As predicted, estimates of others' perceptions were consistent with one's own but differed in a manner consistent with serial adjustment (Study 1). Participants were slower to indicate that another's perception would be different from--rather than similar to--their own (Study 2). Egocentric biases increased under time pressure (Study 2) and decreased with accuracy incentives (Study 3). Egocentric biases also increased when participants were more inclined to accept plausible values encountered early in the adjustment process than when inclined to reject them (Study 4). Finally, adjustments tend to be insufficient, in part, because people stop adjusting once a plausible estimate is reached (Study 5).
... The estimates of participants induced to adjust from different anchor values fell short of one another (Study 2) and also tended to fall short of the actual values being estimated (Studies 2, 3, and 4). These results are of critical importance because insufficient adjustment has been used to account for a great many findings in the intuitive judgment and social psychological literatures (Gilbert, 2002; Gilovich & Savitsky, 1999; Hawkins & Hastie, 1991; Keysar & Barr, 2002; Lichtenstein & Slovic, 1971; Rottenstreich & Tversky, 1997). Important or not, one might have the feeling that all of this is old hat. ...
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Many judgmental biases are thought to be the product of insufficient adjustment from an initial anchor value. Nearly all existing evidence of insufficient adjustment, however, comes from an experimental paradigm that evidence indicates does not involve adjustment at all. In this article, the authors first provide further evidence that some kinds of anchors (those that are self-generated and known to be incorrect but close to the correct answer) activate processes of adjustment, whereas others (uncertain anchors provided by an external source) do not. It is then shown that adjustment from self-generated anchors does indeed tend to be insufficient, both by comparing the estimates of participants starting from different anchor values and by comparing estimates with actual answers. Thus, evidence is provided of adjustment-based anchoring effects similar to the accessibility-based anchoring effects observed in the traditional anchoring paradigm, supporting theories of social judgment that rely on mechanisms of insufficient adjustment.
... Second, other examinations of cross-situational perspective-taking posit a single judgment that simultaneously accounts for diVerences between the self and the target and for diVerences between others' situation and the situation the self is currently in (the diagonal dashed arrow inFig. 2, Epley, Keysar, Van Boven, & Gilovich, 2004; Keysar & Barr, 2002; Nickerson, 1999). For example, people's own interpretation of an ambiguous communication may serve as a judgmental anchor from which they adjust to estimate the interpretation of other people who were provided with diVerent information about the communication (Epley et al., 2004). ...
Article
The results of two experiments support the thesis that emotional perspective taking entails two judgments: a prediction of one’s own preferences and decisions in a different emotional situation, and an adjustment of this prediction to accommodate perceived differences between self and others. Participants overestimated others’ willingness to engage in embarrassing public performances—miming (Experiment 1) and dancing (Experiment 2)—in exchange for money. Consistent with a dual judgment model, this overestimation was greater among participants facing a hypothetical rather than a real decision to perform. Further, participants’ predictions of others’ willingness to perform were more closely correlated with self-predictions than with participants’ estimates of others’ thoughts about the costs and benefits of performing.
... and attend to their behavior (Gilovich and Savitsky, 1999 ), overestimate the extent to which their internal states are transparent to others (Gilovich et al., 2000; Vorauer and Ross, 1999), and overestimate the extent to which others will share their attitudes, beliefs, knowledge, and emotional reactions (Keysar and Barr, 2002; Prentice and Miller, 1993; Ross et al., 1977). Several findings suggest that these egocentric biases are the downstream consequence of an automatic egocentric default. ...
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Ethical judgments are often egocentrically biased, such that moral reasoners tend to conclude that self-interested outcomes are not only desirable but morally justifiable. Although such egocentric ethics can arise from deliberate self-interested reasoning, we suggest that they may also arise through unconscious and automatic psychological mechanisms. People automatically interpret their perceptions egocentrically, automatically evaluate stimuli on a semantic differential as positive or negative, and base their moral judgments on affective reactions to stimuli. These three automatic and unconscious features of human judgment can help to explain not only why ethical judgments are egocentrically biased, but also why such subjective perceptions can appear objective and unbiased to moral reasoners themselves.
... simulation, and theory of mind (e.g., Keysers and Gazzola, 2007); causal theories and schemata (e.g., Reider, 1958; Malle, 1999); or projection of their own inner states (e.g., Keysar and Barr, 2002; Nickerson, 2001). This precondition is a building block of the frrst condiiion for shared reality -the perceived sharing of inner states and not just overt behaviors. ...
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Shared reality is currently understood as the product of the motivated process of experiencing a commonality of inner (mental) states with others about the world. First, an overview is provided about the main theoretical assumptions, including conditions of shared reality that have been proposed in recent theorizing. Second, the intellectual ancestry of the theory is traced back to approaches in three main areas, that is, interpersonal communication and language use, phenomenological approaches, and social influence research. Finally, the operationalization in empirical research and the applicability of the theory are outlined.
... Take, for instance, anchoring. Researchers have found that judgemental anchors are evident in terms of general knowledge questions (Strack and Mussweiler, 1997; Wegener et al., 2001), hindsight bias (Fischhoff and Beyth, 1975; Hawkins and Hastie, 1991 ), language production and comprehension (Keysar and Barr, 2002), evaluations of lotteries and gambles (Chapman and Johnson, 1994) and legal judgements (Chapman and Bornstein, 1996; Englich and Mussweiler, 2001). Such evidence rests upon two main assumptions . ...
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