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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2003 Nov;29(11):1343-56.

Egocentrism, event frequency, and comparative optimism: when what happens frequently is "more likely to happen to me".

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.

Erratum in

  • Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2004 Jan;30(1):118.


Three studies investigated the role of nonmotivated egocentric processes in comparative optimism (and pessimism). According to an egocentric-processes account, when people judge their comparative likelihood of experiencing an event (e.g., "Compared to the average person, how likely are you to become wealthy?"), they consider their own chances of experiencing the event more so than the referent's chances. This should produce higher comparative estimates when an event's absolute frequency is high rather than low-a prediction supported in Study 1, which manipulated event frequency through a novel, time frame manipulation. Study 2 empirically distinguished egocentrism from a related focalism account. In Study 3, comparative estimates were related to the perceived frequency of events, independent of the events' perceived desirability and controllability. Path analyses provided additional support for egocentrism, and systematic cases of comparative pessimism were observed as predicted by the egocentric-processes account.

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