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Description: When you buy a gift for a friend how accurately are you able to predict how well they like the gift once they open it or receive it? When you think about possible trips, merchandise purchases or watching a movie or a play how do you think your experiences of those things would compare to other’s experiences of those same things? What about rating how others, compared to you, would respond to negative things like eating an unexpectedly spicy dish or going without enough sleep over night? If I told you there is a systematic bias in terms of how people typically make such comparisons what would you hypothesize the direct ion of bias to be and would the bias be different for positive compared to negative or unpleasant events? Finally, if there are situations where the bias(es) vanish what sorts of circumstances would they involve? Once you have your hypotheses in order have a read through the article linked below and see what a recently published research article suggests about this bias.

Source: We Consistently Overestimate How Much Other People Will Enjoy Or Pay For Stuff, Emma Young, Research Digest, The British Psychological Society

Date: January 14, 2020

Photo Credit:  Anna Prosekova from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, how did your hypotheses fare? What did you make of the possible explanation for the biases offered by the researchers? Does it make sense that we may tend to thin k that other’s experiences are less nuanced than our own? Social Psychologists we have pointed out a number of similar tendencies that turn on us having MUCH better access to our own thoughts and emotions than we do to those of others. The fundamental attribution error is one good example where we tend to attribute other people’s behavior to their dispositions and our own to more variable situational influences. This social overestimation bias also joins an increasingly long list of cognitive biases that can mess up our decision making in many areas. We are really not nearly as rational as we like to think we are!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is overestimation bias?
  2. How does over estimation bias play out in relation to positive and negative situations, experiences or events?
  3. Why might it be that overestimation bias vanishes with some events like winning money?

References (Read Further):

Jung, M. H., Moon, A., & Nelson, L. D. (2019). Overestimating the valuations and preferences of others. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General

Gawronski, B. (2004). Theory-based bias correction in dispositional inference: The fundamental attribution error is dead, long live the correspondence bias. European review of social psychology, 15(1), 183-217.

Maruna, S., & Mann, R. E. (2006). A fundamental attribution error? Rethinking cognitive distortions. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 11(2), 155-177.

Sabini, J., Siepmann, M., & Stein, J. (2001). ” The Really Fundamental Attribution Error in Social Psychological Research”. Psychological inquiry, 12(1), 1-15.

Mayer, R. E., Stull, A. T., Campbell, J., Almeroth, K., Bimber, B., Chun, D., & Knight, A. (2007). Overestimation bias in self-reported SAT scores. Educational Psychology Review, 19(4), 443-454.

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