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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2006 Nov;91(5):872-89.

When perspective taking increases taking: reactive egoism in social interaction.

Author information

1
Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago, IL 60637, USA. epley@chicagogsb.edu

Abstract

Group members often reason egocentrically, believing that they deserve more than their fair share of group resources. Leading people to consider other members' thoughts and perspectives can reduce these egocentric (self-centered) judgments such that people claim that it is fair for them to take less; however, the consideration of others' thoughts and perspectives actually increases egoistic (selfish) behavior such that people actually take more of available resources. A series of experiments demonstrates this pattern in competitive contexts in which considering others' perspectives activates egoistic theories of their likely behavior, leading people to counter by behaving more egoistically themselves. This reactive egoism is attenuated in cooperative contexts. Discussion focuses on the implications of reactive egoism in social interaction and on strategies for alleviating its potentially deleterious effects.

PMID:
17059307
DOI:
10.1037/0022-3514.91.5.872
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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