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Self–other risk perception bias: Functions of event abstractness and social distance

Lin Wu (Wuhan University), Jing Lin (Jilin University)
Cite this article:  Wu, L., & Lin, J. (2017). Self–other risk perception bias: Functions of event abstractness and social distance. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 45, 1865-1878.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.6721
Publication date: December 2017

Abstract


We developed a platform to consider both optimism and pessimism biases in the same context using construal level theory as a basis, and gained the following key results: An increase in event abstractness increased differences in self–other risk perception (Experiment 1). Perceived level of social distance determined whether optimism or pessimism bias occurred (Experiment 2). Compared with their closest other, people displayed more pessimism bias when estimating the risk of a concrete, compared to an abstract, event. In contrast, when comparing themselves with their most distant other, people displayed less optimism bias when estimating the risk of a concrete event relative to an abstract event, illustrating that the occurrence and extent of optimism or pessimism depends on an interactive effect between social distance and event abstractness (Experiment 3). Our results suggest that people should consider both risk target and risk characteristics when estimating risk.

 


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