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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2003 Dec;85(6):1121-35.

Myopic social prediction and the solo comparison effect.

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Graduate School of Industrial Administration, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Four experiments explored the psychological processes by which people make comparative social judgments. Each participant chose how much money to wager on beating an opponent on either a difficult or a simple trivia quiz. Quiz difficulty did not influence the average person's probability of winning, yet participants bet more on a simple quiz than on a difficult quiz in the first 3 experiments. The results suggest that this effect results from a tendency to attend more closely to a focal actor than to others. Experiment 4 directly manipulated focusing; when participants were led to focus on the opponent instead of themselves, the effect was reversed. The discussion relates the results to other literatures including overly optimistic self-evaluation, false consensus, overconfidence, and social comparison.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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