Publications

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Journal Article

Through a looking glass, darkly: Using mechanisms of mind perception to identify accuracy, overconfidence, and underappreciate means for improvement

Advances in Experimental Social Psychology

Nicholas Epley, Tal Eyal

in press

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Citation

Epley, N., & Eyal., T. (in press). Through a looking glass, darkly: Using mechanisms of mind perception to identify accuracy, overconfidence, and underappreciate means for improvement. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology.

Abstract
People care about the minds of others, attempting to understand others’ thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, intentions, and emotions using a highly sophisticated process of social cognition. Others’ minds are among the most complicated systems that any person will ever think about, meaning that inferences about them are also made with imperfect accuracy. Research on the processes that enable mental state inference has largely developed in isolation from the literature carefully examining the accuracy of these inferences, leaving the former literature somewhat impractical and the latter somewhat atheoretical. We weave these literatures together by describing how basic mechanisms that govern the activation and application of mental state inferences help to explain systematic patterns of accuracy, error, and confidence in mind perception. Altering any of these basic processes, such as through perspective taking or increasing attention to behavioral cues, is likely to increase accuracy only in very specific circumstances. We suggest the most widely effective method for increasing accuracy is to avoid these inference processes altogether by getting another’s perspective directly (what we refer to as perspective getting). Those in the midst of understanding the mind of another, however, seem largely unable to detect when they are using an effective versus ineffective strategy while engaging in mind reading, meaning that the most effective approaches for increasing interpersonal understanding are likely to be highly undervalued. Understanding how mind perception is activated and applied can explain accuracy and error, identifying effective strategies that mind readers may nevertheless fail to appreciate in their everyday lives.
Book Chapter

Understanding the minds of others: Activation, application, and accuracy of mind perception

Social Psychology: Handbook of Basic Principles

Nicholas Epley, Michael Kardas

in press

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Citation

Epley, N., & Kardas, M. (in press). Understanding the minds of others: Activation, application, and accuracy of mind perception. In P. Van Lange & T. Higgins (Eds.), Social Psychology: Handbook of Basic Principles (2nd Ed.).

Abstract
Here we cover the basic psychological processes that comprise what may be the human brain’s most impressive capacity. Engaging with the mind of another person requires this capacity to be activated, and the factors that govern activation can explain both anthropomorphism and dehumanization. Once activated, at least three basic processes guide the inferences people make about others’ mental states and capabilities: egocentrism, stereotyping, 4 and behavioral inference. These processes can work both in isolation and in coordination with each other, based on the information people have available to them at the time of judgment. Each process provides some accuracy but also some systematic error. Understanding these processes enables insight into both the remarkable insight that people can have into the minds of others, and also the potentially painful mistakes people make that can create misunderstanding and conflict.
Journal Article

Escalation of negative social exchange: Reflexive punishment or deliberative deterrence

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

in press

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Citation

Vandermeer, J., Hosey, C., Epley, N., & Keysar, B. (in press).  Escalation of negative social exchange: Reflexive punishment or deliberative deterrence?  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Abstract
Vandermeer, J., Hosey, C., Epley, N., & Keysar, B. (in press). Escalation of negative social exchange: Reflexive punishment or deliberative deterrence? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
Popular Media

The surprising benefits of talking to strangers

BBC News

Nicholas Epley, Juliana Schroeder

2019

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Citation

Epley, N, & Schroeder, J. (June 12, 2019). The surprising benefits of talking to strangers. BBC News.

Abstract
Most people spend part of every day surrounded by strangers, whether on their daily commute, sitting in a park or cafe, or visiting the supermarket. Yet many of us remain in self-imposed isolation, believing that reaching out to a stranger would make you both feel uncomfortable. These beliefs may be unwarranted. In fact, our research suggests we may often underestimate the positive impact of connecting with others for both our own and others' wellbeing.
Popular Media

How to design an ethical culture

Harvard Business Review

Nicholas Epley, Amit Kumar

2019

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Citation

Epley, N., & Kumar, A. (2019). How to design an ethical culture. Harvard Business Review.

Abstract
From Volkswagen’s emissions fiasco to Wells Fargo’s deceptive sales practices to Uber’s privacy intrusions, corporate wrongdoing is a continuing reality in global business. Unethical behavior takes a significant toll on organizations by damaging reputations, harming employee morale, and increasing regulatory costs—not to mention the wider damage to society’s overall trust in business. Few executives set out to achieve advantage by breaking the rules, and most companies have programs in place to prevent malfeasance at all levels. Yet recurring scandals show that we could do better.
Popular Media

Perspective-taking doesn’t help you understand what others want

Harvard Business Review

Tal Eyal, Mary Steffel, Nicholas Epley

2018

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Citation

Eyal, T., Steffel, M., & Epley, N. (October 9, 2018). Perspective-taking doesn’t help you understand what others want. Harvard Business Review.

Abstract
Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, realized that being a good leader required being a good mind reader. “I see my task as serving the majority of people,” he said in an interview to Forbes. “The question is, how do you find out what they want?” For many business leaders who want to understand the minds of their employees, customers, or competitors, the answer seems obvious: Do some perspective-taking. That is, do your best to deliberately try to see things from the other person’s point of view, imagining that you were in his or her shoes.
Journal Article

A Mind like Mine: The Exceptionally Ordinary Underpinnings of Anthropomorphism

Journal of the Association for Consumer Research

Nicholas Epley

2018

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Citation

Epley, N. (2018). A mind like mine: The exceptionally ordinary underpinnings of anthropomorphism. Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, 3(4), 591-598.

Abstract
From computers to cars to cell phones, consumers interact with inanimate objects on a daily basis. Despite being mindless machines, consumers nevertheless routinely attribute humanlike mental capacities of intentions, beliefs, attitudes, and knowledge to them. This process of anthropomorphism has historically been treated as an exceptional belief, explained away as simply an inevitable outcome of human nature or as an occasional product of human stupidity. Recent scientific advances, however, have revealed the very ordinary processes of social cognition underlying anthropomorphism. These processes enable psychologists to predict variability in the magnitude of anthropomorphism across contexts and also connect it to the inverse phenomena of dehumanization whereby people treat other human beings as if they lack a humanlike mind. Consumer behavior researchers are uniquely equipped to study these processes, to identify the precise situational features that give rise to anthropomorphism, to understand implications for consumer welfare, and to predict important consequences for how people treat everything from machines to animals to other human beings.
Journal Article

Undervaluing gratitude: Expressors misunderstand the consequences of showing appreciation

Psychological Science

Amit Kumar, Nicholas Epley

2018

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Citation

Kumar, A., & Epley, N. (2018). Undervaluing gratitude: Expressors misunderstand the consequences of showing appreciation. Psychological Science, 29, 1423-1435.

Abstract
Expressing gratitude improves well-being for both expressers and recipients, but we suggest that an egocentric bias may lead expressers to systematically undervalue its positive impact on recipients in a way that could keep people from expressing gratitude more often in everyday life. Participants in three experiments wrote gratitude letters and then predicted how surprised, happy, and awkward recipients would feel. Recipients then reported how receiving an expression of gratitude actually made them feel. Expressers significantly underestimated how surprised recipients would be about why expressers were grateful, overestimated how awkward recipients would feel, and underestimated how positive recipients would feel. Expected awkwardness and mood were both correlated with participants’ willingness to express gratitude. Wise decisions are guided by an accurate assessment of the expected value of action. Underestimating the value of prosocial actions, such as expressing gratitude, may keep people from engaging in behavior that would maximize their own—and others’—well-being.
Journal Article

Perspective mistaking: Accurately understanding the mind of another requires getting perspective, not taking perspective

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Tal Eyal, Mary Steffel, Nicholas Epley

2018

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Citation

Eyal, T., Steffel, M., & Epley, N. (2018). Perspective mistaking: Accurately understanding the mind of another requires getting perspective, not taking perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 114(4), 547-571.

Abstract
Taking another person’s perspective is widely presumed to increase interpersonal understanding. Very few experiments, however, have actually tested whether perspective taking increases accuracy when predicting another person’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes, or other mental states. Those that do yield inconsistent results, or they confound accuracy with egocentrism. Here we report 25 experiments testing whether being instructed to adopt another person’s perspective increases interpersonal insight. These experiments include a wide range of accuracy tests that disentangle egocentrism and accuracy, such as predicting another person’s emotions from facial expressions and body postures, predicting fake versus genuine smiles, predicting when a person is lying or telling the truth, and predicting a spouse’s activity preferences and consumer attitudes. Although a large majority of pretest participants believed that perspective taking would systematically increase accuracy on these tasks, we failed to find any consistent evidence that it actually did so. If anything, perspective taking decreased accuracy overall while occasionally increasing confidence in judgment. Perspective taking reduced egocentric biases, but the information used in its place was not systematically more accurate. A final experiment confirmed that getting another person’s perspective directly, through conversation, increased accuracy but that perspective taking did not. Increasing interpersonal accuracy seems to require gaining new information rather than utilizing existing knowledge about another person. Understanding the mind of another person is therefore enabled by getting perspective, not simply taking perspective.
Popular Media

We all think we know the people we love; We are all deluded.

National Public Radio

Nicholas Epley

2018

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Citation

Epley, N. (March 22, 2018). We all think we know the people we love; We are all deluded. National Public Radio (NPR.org).

Abstract
Welcome to a new season of Invisibilia! The NPR program and podcast explores the invisible forces that shape human behavior. Episode 3 involves two brothers who are happy about the polite, helpful tenant who moves into their mother's house, until they start to suspect he has sinister motives. Here at Shots, we are exploring the main theme of the story — the things left unsaid, and the havoc they can cause on your personal relationships — with an essay by behavioral scientist Nicholas Epley.
Journal Article

The humanizing voice: Speech reveals, and text conceals, a more thoughtful mind in the midst of disagreement

Psychological Science

Juliana Schroeder, Michael Kardas, Nicholas Epley

2017

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Citation

Schroeder, J., Kardas, M., & Epley, N. (2017). The humanizing voice: Speech reveals, and text conceals, a more thoughtful mind in the midst of disagreement. Psychological Science, 28, 1745-1762.

Abstract
A person’s speech communicates his or her thoughts and feelings. We predicted that beyond conveying the contents of a person’s mind, a person’s speech also conveys mental capacity, such that hearing a person explain his or her beliefs makes the person seem more mentally capable—and therefore seem to possess more uniquely human mental traits—than reading the same content. We expected this effect to emerge when people are perceived as relatively mindless, such as when they disagree with the evaluator’s own beliefs. Three experiments involving polarizing attitudinal issues and political opinions supported these hypotheses. A fourth experiment identified paralinguistic cues in the human voice that convey basic mental capacities. These results suggest that the medium through which people communicate may systematically influence the impressions they form of each other. The tendency to denigrate the minds of the opposition may be tempered by giving them, quite literally, a voice.
Journal Article

Exaggerating accessible differences: When gender stereotype overestimate actual group differences

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

Tal Eyal, Nicholas Epley

2017

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Citation

Eyal, T., & Epley, N.(2017) . Exaggerating accessible differences: When gender stereotype overestimate actual group differences. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43, 1323 - 1336.

Abstract
Stereotypes are often presumed to exaggerate group differences, but empirical evidence is mixed. We suggest exaggeration is moderated by the accessibility of specific stereotype content. In particular, because the most accessible stereotype contents are attributes perceived to differ between groups, those attributes are most likely to exaggerate actual group differences due to regression to the mean. We tested this hypothesis using a highly accessible gender stereotype: that women are more socially sensitive than men. We confirmed that the most accessible stereotype content involves attributes perceived to differ between groups (pretest), and that these stereotypes contain some accuracy but significantly exaggerate actual gender differences (Experiment 1). We observe less exaggeration when judging less accessible stereotype content (Experiment 2), or when judging individual men and women (Experiment 3). Considering the accessibility of specific stereotype content may explain when stereotypes exaggerate actual group differences and when they do not.
Journal Article

Less evil than you: Bounded self-righteousness in character inferences, emotional reactions, and behavioral extremes

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

Nadav Klein, Nicholas Epley

2017

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Citation

Klein, N., & Epley, N. (2017). Less evil than you: Bounded self-righteousness in character inferences, emotional reactions, and behavioral extremes. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43, 1202 - 1212.

Abstract
Recent research suggests that self-righteousness is bounded, arising more reliably in evaluations of immoral actions than in evaluations of moral actions. Here, we test four implications of this asymmetry in self-righteousness and the mechanism explaining it. We find that people are less likely to make negative character inferences from their own unethical behavior than from others’ unethical behavior (Experiment 1), believe they would feel worse after an unethical action than others (Experiment 2), and believe they are less capable of extreme unethical behavior than others (Experiment 3). We observe weaker self–other differences in evaluations of ethical actions. This occurs partly because people base evaluations of themselves on their own moral intentions, leading to predictable individual differences. People more likely to ascribe cynical motives to their own behavior exhibit a smaller asymmetry in self-righteousness (Experiment 4). Self-righteousness seems better characterized as feeling “less evil than thou” than feeling “holier than thou.”
Journal Article

Endorsing help for others that you oppose for yourself: Mind perception alters the perceived effectiveness of paternalism

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General

Juliana Schroeder, Adam Waytz, Nicholas Epley

2017

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Citation

Schroeder, J., Waytz, A., & Epley, N. (2017). Endorsing help for others that you oppose for yourself: Mind perception alters the perceived effectiveness of paternalism. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 146, 1106 - 1125.

Abstract
How people choose to help each other can be just as important as how much people help. Help can come through relatively paternalistic or agentic aid. Paternalistic aid, such as banning certain foods to encourage weight loss or donating food to alleviate poverty, restricts recipients’ choices compared with agentic aid, such as providing calorie counts or donating cash. Nine experiments demonstrate that how people choose to help depends partly on their beliefs about the recipient’s mental capacities. People perceive paternalistic aid to be more effective for those who seem less mentally capable (Experiments 1 and 2), and people therefore give more paternalistically when others are described as relatively incompetent (Experiment 3). Because people tend to believe that they are more mentally capable than are others, people also believe that paternalistic aid will be more effective for others than for oneself, effectively treating other adults more like children (Experiments 4a–5b). Experiencing a personal mental shortcoming—overeating on Thanksgiving—therefore increased the perceived effectiveness of paternalism for oneself, such that participants thought paternalistic antiobesity policies would be more effective when surveyed the day after Thanksgiving than the day before (Experiment 6). A final experiment demonstrates that the link between perceived effectiveness of aid and mental capacity is bidirectional: Those receiving paternalistic aid were perceived as less mentally capable than those receiving relatively agentic aid (Experiment 7). Beliefs about how best to help someone in need are affected by subtle inferences about the mind of the person in need.
Journal Article

Inferring perspective versus getting perspective: Underestimating the value of being in another’s shoes

Psychological Science

Hoatian Zhou, Elizabeth A. Majka, Nicholas Epley

2017

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Citation

Zhou, H., Majka, L., & Epley, N. (2017). Inferring perspective versus getting perspective: Underestimating the value of being in another’s shoes. Psychological Science.

Abstract
People use at least two strategies to solve the challenge of understanding another person’s mind: inferring that person’s perspective by reading his or her behavior (theorization) and getting that person’s perspective by experiencing his or her situation (simulation). The five experiments reported here demonstrate a strong tendency for people to underestimate the value of simulation. Predictors estimated a stranger’s emotional reactions toward 50 pictures. They could either infer the stranger’s perspective by reading his or her facial expressions or simulate the stranger’s perspective by watching the pictures he or she viewed. Predictors were substantially more accurate when they got perspective through simulation, but overestimated the accuracy they had achieved by inferring perspective. Predictors’ miscalibrated confidence stemmed from overestimating the information revealed through facial expressions and underestimating the similarity in people’s reactions to a given situation. People seem to underappreciate a useful strategy for understanding the minds of others, even after they gain firsthand experience with both strategies.
Journal Article

Treating ethics as a design problem

Behavioral Science & Policy

Nicholas Epley, David Tannenbaum

2017

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Citation

Epley, N., & Tannenbaum, D. (2017).  Treating ethics as a design problem.  Behavioral Science and Policy, 3, 73-84.

Abstract
Creating policies that encourage ethical behavior requires an accurate understanding of what drives such behavior. We first describe three common myths about the psychological causes of ethical behavior that can lead policymakers to overlook constructive interventions. These myths suggest that ethical behavior stems from a person’s beliefs; changing behavior therefore requires changing beliefs. Behavioral science, however, indicates that the immediate context (such as an organization’s norms and accepted procedures) exerts a surprisingly powerful influence on behavior. To be efective, policies must treat ethics as a design problem; that is, policymakers should create contexts that promote ethical actions. We then discuss three psychological processes that afect ethical activity—attention, construal, and motivation—and describe how understanding them can help policymakers in the public and private sectors design environments that promote ethical behavior.
Journal Article

The mechanics of motivated reasoning

Journal of Economic Perspectives

Nicholas Epley, Thomas Gilovich

2016

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Citation

Epley, N., & Gilovich, T. (2016). The mechanics of motivated reasoning. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 30, 133-140.

Abstract
Whenever we see voters explain away their preferred candidate's weaknesses, dieters assert that a couple scoops of ice cream won't really hurt their weight loss goals, or parents maintain that their children are unusually gifted, we are reminded that people's preferences can affect their beliefs. This idea is captured in the common saying, "People believe what they want to believe." But people don't simply believe what they want to believe. Psychological research makes it clear that "motivated beliefs" are guided by motivated reasoning--reasoning in the service of some self-interest, to be sure, but reasoning nonetheless. People generally reason their way to conclusions they favor, with their preferences influencing the way evidence is gathered, arguments are processed, and memories of past experience are recalled. Each of these processes can be affected in subtle ways by people's motivations, leading to biased beliefs that feel objective. In this symposium introduction, we set the stage for discussion of motivated beliefs in the papers that follow by providing more detail about the underlying psychological processes that guide motivated reasoning.
Journal Article

Mistaking minds and machines: How speech affects dehumanization and anthropomorphism

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General

Juliana Schroeder, Nicholas Epley

2016

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Citation

Schroeder, J., & Epley, N. (2016). Mistaking minds and machines: How speech affects dehumanization and anthropomorphism. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 145, 1427-1437.

Abstract
Treating a human mind like a machine is an essential component of dehumanization, whereas attributing a humanlike mind to a machine is an essential component of anthropomorphism. Here we tested how a cue closely connected to a person's actual mental experience-a humanlike voice-affects the likelihood of mistaking a person for a machine, or a machine for a person. We predicted that paralinguistic cues in speech are particularly likely to convey the presence of a humanlike mind, such that removing voice from communication (leaving only text) would increase the likelihood of mistaking the text's creator for a machine. Conversely, adding voice to a computer-generated script (resulting in speech) would increase the likelihood of mistaking the text's creator for a human. Four experiments confirmed these hypotheses, demonstrating that people are more likely to infer a human (vs. computer) creator when they hear a voice expressing thoughts than when they read the same thoughts in text. Adding human visual cues to text (i.e., seeing a person perform a script in a subtitled video clip), did not increase the likelihood of inferring a human creator compared with only reading text, suggesting that defining features of personhood may be conveyed more clearly in speech (Experiments 1 and 2). Removing the naturalistic paralinguistic cues that convey humanlike capacity for thinking and feeling, such as varied pace and intonation, eliminates the humanizing effect of speech (Experiment 4). We discuss implications for dehumanizing others through text-based media, and for anthropomorphizing machines through speech-based media.
Journal Article

Many hands make overlooked work: Overclaiming of responsibility increases with group size

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied

Juliana Schroeder, Eugene M Caruso, Nicholas Epley

2016

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Citation

Schroeder, J., Caruso, E.M., & Epley, N. (2016). Many hands make overlooked work: Overclaiming of responsibility increases with group size. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 22, 238-246.

Abstract
Logically, group members cannot be responsible for more than 100% of the group’s output, yet claims of responsibility routinely sum to more than 100%. This “over-claiming” occurs partly because of egocentrism: People focus on their own contributions, as focal members of the group, more than on others’ contributions. Therefore, we predicted that over-claiming would increase with group size because larger groups leave more contributions from others to overlook. In 2 field studies, participants claimed more responsibility as the number of academic authors per article and the number of MBA students per study group increased. As predicted by our theoretical account, this over-claiming bias was reduced when group members considered others’ contributions explicitly. Two experiments that directly manipulated group size replicated these results. Members of larger groups may be particularly well advised to consider other members’ contributions before considering their own.
Journal Article

Maybe holier, but definitely less evil, than you: Bounded self-righteousness in social judgment

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Nadav Klein, Nicholas Epley

2016

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Citation

Klein, N., & Epley, N. (2016). Maybe holier, but definitely less evil, than you: Bounded self-righteousness in social judgment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 110, 660-674.

Abstract
Few biases in human judgment are easier to demonstrate than self-righteousness: the tendency to believe one is more moral than others. Existing research, however, has overlooked an important ambiguity in evaluations of one’s own and others’ moral behavior that could lead to an overly simplistic characterization of self-righteousness. In particular, moral behavior spans a broad spectrum ranging from doing good to doing bad. Self-righteousness could indicate believing that one is more likely to do good than others, less likely to do bad, or both. Based on cognitive and motivational mechanisms, we predicted an asymmetry in the degree of self-righteousness such that it would be larger when considering unethical actions (doing bad) than when considering ethical actions (doing good). A series of experiments confirmed this prediction. A final experiment suggests that this asymmetry is partly produced by the difference in perspectives that people adopt when evaluating themselves and others (Experiment 8). These results all suggest a bounded sense of self-righteousness. Believing one “less evil than thou” seems more reliable than believing one is “holier than thou.”
Popular Media

The science of sounding smart

Harvard Business Review

Nicholas Epley, Juliana Schroeder

2015

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Citation

Schroeder, J., & Epley, N. (October 7, 2015). The science of sounding smart. Harvard Business Review.

Abstract
When you’re trying to convey the quality of your mind to your boss, or to a company that’s considering you for a job, your best ally may be your own voice. Although some people may assume that their ideas and intellect would come across much better in written form, it turns out that using your voice can make you sound smarter.
Journal Article

Group discussion improves lie detection

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Nadav Klein, Nicholas Epley

2015

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Citation

Klein, N., & Epley, N. (2015). Group discussion improves lie detection. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112, 7460-7465.

Abstract
Groups of individuals can sometimes make more accurate judgments than the average individual could make alone. We tested whether this group advantage extends to lie detection, an exceptionally challenging judgment with accuracy rates rarely exceeding chance. In four experiments, we find that groups are consistently more accurate than individuals in distinguishing truths from lies, an effect that comes primarily from an increased ability to correctly identify when a person is lying. These experiments demonstrate that the group advantage in lie detection comes through the process of group discussion, and is not a product of aggregating individual opinions (a "wisdom-of-crowds" effect) or of altering response biases (such as reducing the "truth bias"). Interventions to improve lie detection typically focus on improving individual judgment, a costly and generally ineffective endeavor. Our findings suggest a cheap and simple synergistic approach of enabling group discussion before rendering a judgment.
Journal Article

The sound of intellect: Speech reveals a thoughtful mind, increasing a job candidate’s appeal

Psychological Science

Juliana Schroeder, Nicholas Epley

2015

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Citation

Schroeder, J., & Epley, N. (2015). The sound of intellect: Speech reveals a thoughtful mind, increasing a job candidate’s appeal. Psychological Science, 26, 877-891.

Abstract
A person's mental capacities, such as intellect, cannot be observed directly and so are instead inferred from indirect cues. We predicted that a person's intellect would be conveyed most strongly through a cue closely tied to actual thinking: his or her voice. Hypothetical employers (Experiments 1-3b) and professional recruiters (Experiment 4) watched, listened to, or read job candidates' pitches about why they should be hired. These evaluators rated a candidate as more competent, thoughtful, and intelligent when they heard a pitch rather than read it and, as a result, had a more favorable impression of the candidate and were more interested in hiring the candidate. Adding voice to written pitches, by having trained actors (Experiment 3a) or untrained adults (Experiment 3b) read them, produced the same results. Adding visual cues to audio pitches did not alter evaluations of the candidates. For conveying one's intellect, it is important that one's voice, quite literally, be heard.
Journal Article

It pays to be nice, but not really nice: Asymmetric evaluations of prosociality across seven cultures

Judgment and Decision Making

Nadav Klein, Igor Grossmann, Ayse K. Uskul, Alexandra A. Kraus, Nicholas Epley

2015

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Citation

Klein, N., Grossman, I., Uskul, A., Kraus, A.A., & Epley, N. (2015). It pays to be nice, but not really nice: Asymmetric reputations from prosociality across 7 cultures. Judgment and Decision Making, 10, 355-364.

Abstract
Cultures differ in many important ways, but one trait appears to be universally valued: prosociality. For one’s reputation, around the world, it pays to be nice to others. However, recent research with American participants finds that evaluations of prosocial actions are asymmetric—relatively selfish actions are evaluated according to the magnitude of selfishness but evaluations of relatively generous actions are less sensitive to magnitude. Extremely generous actions are judged roughly as positively as modestly generous actions, but extremely selfish actions are judged much more negatively than modestly selfish actions (Klein & Epley, 2014). Here we test whether this asymmetry in evaluations of prosociality is culture-specific. Across 7 countries, 1,240 participants evaluated actors giving various amounts of money to a stranger. Along with relatively minor cross-cultural differences in evaluations of generous actions, we find cross-cultural similarities in the asymmetry in evaluations of prosociality. We discuss implications for how reputational inferences can enable the cooperation necessary for successful societies.
Journal Article

The topography of generosity: Asymmetric evaluations of prosocial actions

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General

Nadav Klein, Nicholas Epley

2014

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Klein, N., & Epley, N. (2014). The topography of generosity: Asymmetric evaluations of prosocial actions.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143, 2366-2379.

Abstract
Prosociality is considered a virtue. Those who care for others are admired, whereas those who care only for themselves are despised. For one's reputation, it pays to be nice. Does it pay to be even nicer? Four experiments assess reputational inferences across the entire range of prosocial outcomes in zero-sum interactions, from completely selfish to completely selfless actions. We observed consistent nonlinear evaluations: Participants evaluated selfish actions more negatively than equitable actions, but they did not evaluate selfless actions markedly more favorably than equitable actions. This asymptotic pattern reflected monotonic evaluations for increasingly selfish actions and insensitivity to increasingly selfless actions. It pays to be nice but not to be really nice. Additional experiments suggest that this pattern stems partly from failing to make spontaneous comparisons between varying degrees of selflessness. We suggest that these reputational incentives could guide social norms, encouraging equitable actions but discouraging extremely selfless actions.
Journal Article

Mistakenly seeking solitude

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General

Nicholas Epley, Juliana Schroeder

2014

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Epley, N., & Schroeder, J. (2014). Mistakenly seeking solitude. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143, 1980-1999.

Abstract
Connecting with others increases happiness, but strangers in close proximity routinely ignore each other. Why? Two reasons seem likely: Either solitude is a more positive experience than interacting with strangers, or people misunderstand the consequences of distant social connections. To examine the experience of connecting to strangers, we instructed commuters on trains and buses to connect with a stranger near them, to remain disconnected, or to commute as normal (Experiments 1a and 2a). In both contexts, participants reported a more positive (and no less productive) experience when they connected than when they did not. Separate participants in each context, however, expected precisely the opposite outcome, predicting a more positive experience in solitude (Experiments 1b and 2b). This mistaken preference for solitude stems partly from underestimating others' interest in connecting (Experiments 3a and 3b), which in turn keeps people from learning the actual consequences of social interaction (Experiments 4a and 4b). The pleasure of connection seems contagious: In a laboratory waiting room, participants who were talked to had equally positive experiences as those instructed to talk (Experiment 5). Human beings are social animals. Those who misunderstand the consequences of social interactions may not, in at least some contexts, be social enough for their own well-being.
Popular Media

How Behavioral Science Can Make You a Mind Reader

The Huffington Post

Nicholas Epley

2014

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Citation

Epley, N. (June 6, 2014). How behavioral science can make you a mind reader. The Huffington Post.

Abstract
It was the perfect gift for her, without a doubt: A day spent as “trainer for a day” at the Shedd Aquarium in our hometown of Chicago. My wife loves dolphins. She would be thrilled: my gift would assure her that nobody knows, understands, and loves her like I do. She teased apart the wrapping paper, taking a minute to digest the brochure’s fine print. Anticipation bound me like a knot, and then the reaction! “Oh,” she said with a light sigh and a compassionate smile. I was wrong. Completely, painfully, surprisingly wrong. She never used the gift. Am I the only one who sometimes misunderstands those we are supposed to understand the most?
Journal Article

The mind in the machine: Anthropomorphism increases trust in an autonomous vehicle

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Adam Waytz, Joy Heafner, Nicholas Epley

2014

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Citation

Waytz, A., Heafner, J., & Epley, N. (2014). The mind in the machine: Anthropomorphism increases trust in an autonomous vehicle. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 52, 113-117.

Abstract
Sophisticated technology is increasingly replacing human minds to perform complicated tasks in domains ranging from medicine to education to transportation. We investigated an important theoretical determinant of people's willingness to trust such technology to perform competently—the extent to which a nonhuman agent is anthropomorphized with a humanlike mind—in a domain of practical importance, autonomous driving. Participants using a driving simulator drove either a normal car, an autonomous vehicle able to control steering and speed, or a comparable autonomous vehicle augmented with additional anthropomorphic features—name, gender, and voice. Behavioral, physiological, and self-report measures revealed that participants trusted that the vehicle would perform more competently as it acquired more anthropomorphic features. Technology appears better able to perform its intended design when it seems to have a humanlike mind. These results suggest meaningful consequences of humanizing technology, and also offer insights into the inverse process of objectifying humans.
Journal Article

Worth keeping but not exceeding: Asymmetric consequence of breaking versus exceeding promises.

Social Psychological and Personality Science

Ayelet Gneezy, Nicholas Epley

2014

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Gneezy, A., & Epley, N. (2014). Worth keeping but not exceeding: Asymmetric consequence of breaking versus exceeding promises. Social Psychology and Personality Science, 5, 796-804.

Abstract
Promises are social contracts that can be broken, kept, or exceeded. Breaking one's promise is evaluated more negatively than keeping one's promise. Does expending more effort to exceed a promise lead to equivalently more positive evaluations? Although linear in their outcomes, we expected an asymmetry in evaluations of broken, kept, and exceeded promises. Whereas breaking one's promise is obviously negative compared to keeping a promise, we predicted that exceeding one's promise would not be evaluated more positively than merely keeping a promise. Three sets of experiments involving hypothetical, recalled, and actual promises support these predictions. A final experiment suggests this asymmetry comes from overvaluing kept promises rather than undervaluing exceeded promises. We propse this pattern may reflect a general tendency in social systems to discourage selfishness and reward cooperation. Breaking one's promise is costly, but exceeding it does not appear worth the effort.
Book Chapter

Motivated mind perception: Treating pets as people and people as animals

Nebraska Symposium on Motivation

Nicholas Epley, Juliana Schroeder, Adam Waytz

2013

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Citation

Epley, N., Schroeder, J., & Waytz, A. (2013). Motivated mind perception: Treating pets as people and people as animals. In Gervais, S. (Ed.), Nebraska Symposium on Motivation (Vol. 60, pp 127-152). Springer: New York.

Abstract
Human beings have a sophisticated ability to reason about the minds of others, often referred to as using one's theory of mind or mentalizing. Just like any other cognitive ability, people engage in reasoning about other minds when it seems useful for achieving particular goals, but this ability remains disengaged otherwise. We suggest that understanding the factors that engage our ability to reason about the minds of others helps to explain anthropomorphism: cases in which people attribute minds to a wide range of nonhuman agents, including animals, mechanical and technological objects, and supernatural entities such as God. We suggest that engagement is guided by two basic motivations: (1) the motivation to explain and predict others' actions, and (2) the motivation to connect socially with others. When present, these motivational forces can lead people to attribute minds to almost any agent. When absent, the likelihood of attributing a mind to others, even other human beings, decreases. We suggest that understanding the factors that engage our theory of mind can help to explain the inverse process of dehumanization, and also why people might be indifferent to other people even when connecting to them would improve their momentary wellbeing.
Journal Article

Disfluency prompts analytic thinking—But not always greater accuracy: Response to Thompson et al. (2013)

Cognition

Adam L. Alter, Daniel M Oppenheimer, Nicholas Epley

2013

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Alter, A.L., Oppenheimer, D., & Epley, N. (2013). Disfluency prompts analytic thinking—But not always greater accuracy: Response to Thompson et al. (2013). Cognition, 128, 252-255.

Abstract
In this issue of Cognition, Thompson and her colleagues challenge the results from a paper we published several years ago (Alter, Oppenheimer, Epley, & Eyre, 2007). That paper demonstrated that metacognitive difficulty or disfluency can trigger more analytical thinking as measured by accuracy on several reasoning tasks. In their experiments, Thompson et al. find evidence that people process information more deeply-but not necessarily more accurately-when they experience disfluency. These results are consistent with our original theorizing, but the authors misinterpret it as counter-evidence because they suggest that accuracy (and even confidence) is a measure of deeper processing rather than a contingent outcome of such processing. We further suggest that Thompson et al. err when they discriminate between "perceptual fluency" and "answer fluency," the former of which is an element of the latter. Thompson et al. advance research by adding reaction time as a measure of deeper cognitive processing, but we caution against misinterpreting the meaning of accuracy.
Book Chapter

Anchoring

The Encyclopedia of the Mind

Nicholas Epley

2013

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Epley, N. (2013). Anchoring. In H. Pashler (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of the Mind (pp.28-30). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Abstract
It's hard to conceive of a topic of more broad and personal interest than the study of the mind. In addition to its traditional investigation by the disciplines of psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience, the mind has also been a focus of study in the fields of philosophy, economics, anthropology, linguistics, computer science, molecular biology, education, and literature. In all these approaches, there is an almost universal fascination with how the mind works and how it affects our lives and our behavior. Studies of the mind and brain have crossed many exciting thresholds in recent years, and the study of mind now represents a thoroughly cross-disciplinary effort. Researchers from a wide range of disciplines seek answers to such questions as: What is mind? How does it ...
Book Chapter

The lesser minds problem

Are we all human? Advances in understanding[...]

Adam Waytz, Juliana Schroeder, Nicholas Epley

2013

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Citation

Waytz, A., Schroeder, J., & Epley, N. (2013). The lesser minds problem. In Bain, P., Vaes, J., & Leyens, J.P. (Eds.), Are we all human? Advances in understanding humanness and dehumanization (pp. 49-67). New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Abstract
What does it mean to be human? Why do people dehumanize others (and sometimes themselves)? These questions have only recently begun to be investigated in earnest within psychology. This volume presents the latest thinking about these and related questions from research leaders in the field of humanness and dehumanization in social psychology and related disciplines. Contributions provide new insights into the history of dehumanization, its different types, and new theories are proposed for when and why dehumanization occurs. While people’s views about what humanness is, and who has it, have long been known as important in understanding ethnic conflict, contributors demonstrate its relevance in other domains, including medical practice, policing, gender relations, and our relationship with the natural environment. Cultural differences and similarities in beliefs about humanness are explored, along with strategies to overcome dehumanization. In highlighting emerging ideas and theoretical perspectives, describing current theoretical issues and controversies and ways to resolve them, and in extending research to new areas, this volume will influence research on humanness and dehumanization for many years.
Book Chapter

Imagining other minds: Hair triggered but not hare brained

Oxford Handbook of the Development of Imagination

Adam Waytz, Nadav Klein, Nicholas Epley

2013

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Waytz, A., Klein, N., & Epley, N. (2013). Imagining other minds: Hair triggered but not hare brained. In Marjorie Taylor (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Development of Imagination (pp. 272-287). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Abstract
Nonhuman agents are sometimes attributed humanlike characteristics, particularly mental states of thoughts, feelings, intentions, and conscious experience. Because such anthropomorphism emerges early in life and continues through adulthood in at least some cultures, it may appear to be an innate and automatic phenomenon. However, the psychological processes that enable people to reason about the minds of others suggests that such inferences require cognitive effort and motivation, meaning that anthropomorphism arises only when triggered by one's goals or the situational context to consider the mind of another agent. These triggers identify important moderators of anthropomorphism in adulthood, providing insight into when people are likely to attribute humanlike minds to nonhuman agents and when they are not.
Journal Article

Exaggerated, mispredicted, and misplaced: When "it's the thought that counts" in gift exchanges

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General

Yan Zhang, Nicholas Epley

2012

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Zhang, Y., & Epley, N. (2012). Exaggerated, mispredicted, and misplaced: When "it's the thought that counts" in gift exchanges. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 141, 667-681.

Abstract
Gift-giving involves both the objective value of a gift and the symbolic meaning of the exchange. The objective value is sometimes considered of secondary importance as when people claim, "It's the thought that counts." We evaluated when and how mental state inferences count in gift exchanges. Because considering another's thoughts requires motivation and deliberation, we predicted gift givers' thoughts would increase receivers' appreciation only when triggered to consider a giver's thoughts, such as when a friend gives a bad gift. Because gift givers do not experience this trigger, we expected they would mispredict when their thoughts count and when they do not. Three experiments support these predictions. A final experiment demonstrated that thoughts "count" for givers by increasing social connection to the receiver. These results suggest that mental state inferences are not automatic in social interactions and that inferences about how much thoughts count are systematically miscalibrated.
Journal Article

Social connection enables dehumanization

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Adam Waytz, Nicholas Epley

2012

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Waytz, A., & Epley, N. (2012). Social connection enables dehumanization. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 70-76.

Abstract
Being socially connected has considerable benefits for oneself, but may have negative consequences for evaluations of others. In particular, being socially connected to close others satisfies the need for social connection, and creates disconnection from more distant others. We therefore predicted that feeling socially connected would increase the tendency to dehumanize more socially distant others. Four experiments support this prediction. Those led to feel socially connected were less likely to attribute humanlike mental states to members of various social groups (Experiments 1 and 2), particularly distant others compared to close others (Experiment 3), and were also more likely to recommend harsh treatment for dehumanized others (i.e., terrorist detainees, Experiment 4). Discussion addresses the mechanisms by which social connection enables dehumanization, and the varied behavioral implications that result.
Journal Article

Integrations need both breadth and depth: Commentary on Zaki and Ochsner

Psychological Inquiry

Nicholas Epley, Tal Eyal

2011

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Epley, N., & Eyal, T. (2011). Integrations need both breadth and depth. Psychological Inquiry, 22, 187-192.

Abstract
Zaki and Ochsner (this issue) put out a call for social cognition researchers to integrate work on the processes that enable mind perception with work on the accuracy with which people reason about other minds. We welcome this call and believe it is long overdue. Indeed, the main reason that psychologists are interested in underlying psychological processes at all is because they give insight into how effectively these processes are likely to function in everyday life. Understanding how people reason about the minds of others is interesting mainly because it provides insight into how well they are likely to do so.
Popular Media

Let's make some Metra noise

The Chicago Tribune

Nicholas Epley, Juliana Schroeder

2011

Abstract
Everyone wants a little more peace and quiet. Monday, Metra begins offering some in the form of "quiet cars" on all trains. Talking on cellphones and to fellow commuters is discouraged. Sounds great, doesn't it? Indeed, Metra reports that 84 percent of people who responded to a survey were in favor of these cars. We found the same thing in an experiment that asked Chicagoans to predict how much they would enjoy different kinds of commutes. In the experiment, people predicted they would find a commute where they sat alone and enjoyed their solitude more pleasant than one where they were asked to strike up a conversation with a fellow passenger. Could these people be wrong? We think so.
Journal Article

The closeness-communication bias: Increased egocentrism among friends versus strangers

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Kenneth Savitsky, Boaz Keysar, Nicholas Epley, Travis Carter, Ashley Swanson

2011

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Savitsky, K., Keysar, B., Epley, N., Carter, T., & Sawnson, A. (2011).  The Closeness-Communication Bias:  Increased egocentrism among friends versus strangers.  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 269-273.

Abstract
People commonly believe that they communicate better with close friends than with strangers. We propose, however, that closeness can lead people to overestimate how well they communicate, a phenomenon we term the closeness-communication bias. In one experiment, participants who followed direction of a friend were more likely to make egocentric errors—look at and reach for an object only they could see—than were those who followed direction of a stranger. In two additional experiments, participants who attempted to convey particular meanings with ambiguous phrases overestimated their success more when communicating with a friend or spouse than with strangers. We argue that people engage in active monitoring of strangers’ divergent perspectives because they know they must, but that they “let down their guard” and rely more on their own perspective when they communicate with a friend.
Journal Article

Making sense by making sentient: Effectance motivation increases anthropomorphism

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Adam Waytz, Carey K. Morewedge, Nicholas Epley, George Monteleone, Jia-Hong Gao, John T. Cacioppo

2010

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Waytz, A., Morewedge, C., Epley, N., Monteleone, G., Gao, J., & Cacioppo, J.T.  (2010).  Making sense by making sentient: Effectance motivation increases anthropomorphism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 410-435.

Abstract
People commonly anthropomorphize nonhuman agents, imbuing everything from computers to pets to gods with humanlike capacities and mental experiences. Although widely observed, the determinants of anthropomorphism are poorly understood and rarely investigated. We propose that people anthropomorphize, in part, to satisfy effectance motivation-the basic and chronic motivation to attain mastery of one's environment. Five studies demonstrated that increasing effectance motivation by manipulating the perceived unpredictability of a nonhuman agent or by increasing the incentives for mastery increases anthropomorphism. Neuroimaging data demonstrated that the neural correlates of this process are similar to those engaged when mentalizing other humans. A final study demonstrated that anthropomorphizing a stimulus makes it appear more predictable and understandable, suggesting that anthropomorphism satisfies effectance motivation. Anthropomorphizing nonhuman agents seems to satisfy the basic motivation to make sense of an otherwise uncertain environment.
Journal Article

Causes and consequences of mind perception

Trends in Cognitive Sciences

Adam Waytz, Kurt Gray, Nicholas Epley, Daniel M. Wenger

2010

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Waytz, A., Gray, K., Epley, N., & Wegner, D.M. (2010).  The causes and consequences of mind perception.  Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14, 383-388.

Abstract
Perceiving others' minds is a crucial component of social life. People do not, however, always ascribe minds to other people, and sometimes ascribe minds to non-people (e.g. God, gadgets). This article reviews when mind perception occurs, when it does not, and why mind perception is important. Causes of mind perception stem both from the perceiver and perceived, and include the need for social connection (perceiver) and a similarity to oneself (perceived). Mind perception also has profound consequences for both the perceiver and perceived. Ascribing mind confers an entity moral rights and also makes its actions meaningful. Understanding the causes and consequences of mind perception can explain when this most social of cognitive skills will be used, and why it matters.
Journal Article

The intentional mind and the hot hand: Perceiving intentions makes streaks seem likely to continue

Cognition

Eugene M. Caruso, Adam Waytz, Nicholas Epley

2010

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Caruso, E.M., Waytz, A., & Epley, N. (2010).  The intentional mind and the hot hand: Perceiving intentions makes streaks seem likely to continue.  Cognition, 116, 149-153.

Abstract
People can appear inconsistent in their intuitions about sequences of repeated events. Sometimes people believe such sequences will continue (the "hot hand"), and sometimes people believe they will reverse (the "gambler's fallacy"). These contradictory intuitions can be partly explained by considering the perceived intentionality of the agent generating the streak. The intuition that streaks will continue (reverse) should emerge in contexts involving agents that are perceived to be intentional (unintentional), and should be most common among those who are most inclined to attribute intentions to other agents. Four studies support these predictions, identifying both situational and dispositional determinants of the perceived continuity of streaks. Discussion focuses on the foundational nature of intentionality for perceptions of interdependence between events, the relationship between these findings and existing theoretical accounts, and the inverse possibility that people use perceptions of streakiness as a cue for an agent's intentionality.
Journal Article

Who sees human?: The stability and importance of individual differences in anthropomorphism

Perspectives in Psychological Sciences

Adam Waytz, John Cacioppo, Nicholas Epley

2010

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Waytz, A., Cacioppo, J.T., & Epley, N.  (2010).  Who sees human?  The stability and importance of individual differences in anthropomorphism.  Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5, 219-232.

Abstract
Anthropomorphism is a far-reaching phenomenon that incorporates ideas from social psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and the neurosciences. Although commonly considered to be a relatively universal phenomenon with only limited importance in modern industrialized societies—more cute than critical—our research suggests precisely the opposite. In particular, we provide a measure of stable individual differences in anthropomorphism that predicts three important consequences for everyday life. This research demonstrates that individual differences in anthropomorphism predict the degree of moral care and concern afforded to an agent, the amount of responsibility and trust placed on an agent, and the extent to which an agent serves as a source of social influence on the self. These consequences have implications for disciplines outside of psychology including human–computer interaction, business (marketing and finance), and law. Concluding discussion addresses how understanding anthropomorphism not only informs the burgeoning study of nonpersons, but how it informs classic issues underlying person perception as well.
Journal Article

Reflexively mindblind: Using Theory of Mind to interpret behavior requires effortful attention

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Shuhong Lin, Boaz Keysar, Nicholas Epley

2010

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Lin, S., Keysar, B., & Epley, N.  (2010).  Reflexively mindblind: Using Theory of Mind to interpret behavior requires effortful attention.  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 551-556.

Abstract
People commonly interpret others’ behavior in terms of the actors’ underlying beliefs, knowledge, or other mental states, thereby using their “theory of mind.” Two experiments suggest that using one’s theory of mind is a relatively effortful process. In both experiments, people reflexively used their own knowledge and beliefs to follow a speaker’s instruction, but only effortfully used their theory of mind to take into account a speaker’s intention to interpret those instructions. In Experiment 1, people with lower working memory capacity were less effective than people with larger working memory capacity in applying their theory of mind to interpret behavior. In Experiment 2, an attention-demanding secondary task reduced people’s ability to apply their theory of mind. People appear to be reflexively mindblind, interpreting behavior in terms of the actor’s mental states only to the extent that they have the cognitive resources to do so.
Journal Article

How to seem telepathic: Enabling mind reading by matching self-construal

Psychological Science

Tal Eyal, Nicholas Epley

2010

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Eyal, T., & Epley, N. (2010).  How to seem telepathic:  Enabling mind reading by matching self-construal. Psychological Science, 21, 700-705.

Abstract
People can have difficulty intuiting what others think about them at least partly because people evaluate themselves in more fine-grained detail than observers do. This mismatch in the level of detail at which people construe themselves versus others diminishes accuracy in social judgment. Being a more accurate mind reader requires thinking of oneself at a higher level of construal that matches the observer's construal (Experiments 1 and 2), and this strategy is more effective in this context than perspective taking (Experiments 3a and 3b). Accurately intuiting how others evaluate themselves requires the opposite strategy-thinking about others in a lower level of construal that matches the way people evaluate themselves (Experiment 4). Accurately reading other minds to know how one is evaluated by others-or how others evaluate themselves-requires focusing one's evaluative lens at the right level of detail.
Journal Article

Social cognition unbound: Insights into anthropomorphism and dehumanization

Current Directions in Psychological Science

Adam Waytz, Nicholas Epley, John T. Cacioppo

2010

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Waytz, A., Epley, N., & Cacioppo, J.T. (2010).  Social cognition unbound: Insights into anthropomorphism and dehumanization.  Current Directions in Psychological Science, 19, 58-62.

Abstract
People conceive of wrathful gods, fickle computers, and selfish genes, attributing human characteristics to a variety of supernatural, technological, and biological agents. This tendency to anthropomorphize nonhuman agents figures prominently in domains ranging from religion to marketing to computer science. Perceiving an agent to be humanlike has important implications for whether the agent is capable of social influence, accountable for its actions, and worthy of moral care and consideration. Three primary factors—elicited agent knowledge, sociality motivation, and effectance motivation—appear to account for a significant amount of variability in anthropomorphism. Identifying these factors that lead people to see nonhuman agents as humanlike also sheds light on the inverse process of dehumanization, whereby people treat human agents as animals or objects. Understanding anthropomorphism can contribute to a more expansive view of social cognition that applies social psychological theory to a wide variety of both human and nonhuman agents.
Book Chapter

Mind perception

The Handbook of Social Psychology

Nicholas Epley, Adam Waytz

2010

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Epley, N., & Waytz, A. (2010). Mind Perception. In S.T. Fiske, D.T. Gilbert, & G. Lindsay (Eds.), The Handbook of Social Psychology (5th ed., pp. 498-541). New York: Wiley.

Abstract
The Encyclopedia of Human Relationships offers an interdisciplinary view of all types of human associations—friends, lovers, spouses, roommates, coworkers, teammates, parents and children, cousins, siblings, acquaintances, neighbors, business associates, and so forth. Although each of these connections is unique in some respect, they share a common core of principles and processes. These three volumes provide a state-of-the-art review of the extensive theories, concepts, and empirical findings about human relationships.
Journal Article

Anchoring unbound

Journal of Consumer Psychology

Nicholas Epley, Thomas Gilovich

2010

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Epley, N., & Gilovich, T. (2010).  Anchoring unbound.  Journal of Consumer Psychology, 20, 20-24.

Abstract
An attitudes and persuasion perspective can broaden our understanding of anchoring by highlighting sources of variability in anchoring effects that have been largely overlooked. As the target article suggests, research guided by this perspective can help identify (1) different types of anchors that exert their influence through different underlying mechanisms, 2) important social psychological moderators of anchoring effects, and 3) sources of variability in the consequences of anchoring for judgment and choice. In this commentary, we take an even broader perspective on the types of anchors that are likely to influence judgment, suggesting four potentially distinct types—intuitive approximations, best/worst case scenarios, environmental suggestions, and magnitude priming. We conclude by discussing how an attitudes and persuasion perspective on anchoring may provide novel insights into the moderators and consequences of anchoring effects in everyday life.
Journal Article

Believers’ estimates of God’s beliefs are more egocentric than estimates of other people’s beliefs

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Nicholas Epley, Benjamin A. Converse, Alexa Delbosc, George A. Monteleone, John T. Cacioppo

2009

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Epley, N., Converse, B.A., Delbosc, A., Monteleone, G., & Cacioppo, J. (2009).  Believers’ estimates of God’s beliefs are more egocentric than estimates of other people’s beliefs.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106, 21533-21538.

Abstract
People often reason egocentrically about others' beliefs, using their own beliefs as an inductive guide. Correlational, experimental, and neuroimaging evidence suggests that people may be even more egocentric when reasoning about a religious agent's beliefs (e.g., God). In both nationally representative and more local samples, people's own beliefs on important social and ethical issues were consistently correlated more strongly with estimates of God's beliefs than with estimates of other people's beliefs (Studies 1-4). Manipulating people's beliefs similarly influenced estimates of God's beliefs but did not as consistently influence estimates of other people's beliefs (Studies 5 and 6). A final neuroimaging study demonstrated a clear convergence in neural activity when reasoning about one's own beliefs and God's beliefs, but clear divergences when reasoning about another person's beliefs (Study 7). In particular, reasoning about God's beliefs activated areas associated with self-referential thinking more so than did reasoning about another person's beliefs. Believers commonly use inferences about God's beliefs as a moral compass, but that compass appears especially dependent on one's own existing beliefs.
Journal Article

Self-centered social exchange: Differential use of costs versus benefits in prosocial reciprocity

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Yan Zhang, Nicholas Epley

2009

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Zhang, Y., & Epley, N. (2009).  Self-centered social exchange:  Differential use of costs versus benefits in prosocial reciprocity.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 796-810.

Abstract
Maintaining equitable social relations often requires reciprocating "in kind" for others' prosocial favors. Such in-kind reciprocity requires assessing the value of a prosocial action, an assessment that can lead to egocentric biases in perceived value between favor givers versus favor receivers. In any prosocial exchange, 1 person (the giver) incurs a cost to provide a benefit for another person (the receiver). Six experiments suggest that givers may attend more to the costs they incur in performing a prosocial act than do receivers, who tend to focus relatively more on the benefits they receive. Givers may therefore expect to be reciprocated on the basis of the costs they incur, whereas receivers actually reciprocate primarily on the basis of the benefit they receive. This research identifies 1 challenge to maintaining a sense of equity in social relations and predicts when people are likely to feel fairly versus unfairly valued in their relationships.
Journal Article

When the best appears to be saved for last: Serial position effects in choice

Journal of Behavioral Decision Making

Ye Li, Nicholas Epley

2009

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Li, Y., & Epley, N. (2009). When the best appears to be saved for last: Serial position effects in choice. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 22, 378-389.

Abstract
Decision-makers often evaluate options sequentially due to constraints on attention, timing, or physical location of the options. Choosing the best option will therefore often depend on people's memories of the options. Because imperfect recall introduces uncertainty in earlier options, judgments of those options should regress toward the category mean as memory decays over time. Relatively desirable options will therefore tend to seem less desirable with time, and relatively undesirable options will tend to seem less undesirable with time. We therefore predicted that people will tend to select the first option in a set when choosing between generally undesirable options, and will tend to select the last when choosing between generally desirable options. We demonstrate these serial position effects in choices among paintings, American Idol audition clips, jellybeans, and female faces, provide evidence of its underlying mechanism, and explain how these findings build on existing accounts.
Journal Article

Science and God: An automatic opposition between ultimate explanations

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Jesse Preston, Nicholas Epley

2009

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Preston, J., & Epley, N. (2009). Science and God: An automatic opposition between ultimate explanations. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 238-241.

Abstract
Science and religion have come into conflict repeatedly throughout history, and one simple reason for this is the two offer competing explanations for many of the same phenomena. We present evidence that the conflict between these two concepts can occur automatically, such that increasing the perceived value of one decreases the automatic evaluation of the other. In Experiment 1, scientific theories described as poor explanations decreased automatic evaluations of science, but simultaneously increased automatic evaluations of God. In Experiment 2, using God as an explanation increased automatic evaluations of God, but decreased automatic evaluations of science. Religion and science both have the potential to be ultimate explanations, and these findings suggest that this competition for explanatory space can create an automatic opposition in evaluations.
Book Chapter

Perspective taking

Encyclopedia of Human Relationships

Nicholas Epley, Adam Waytz

2009

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Epley, N., & Waytz, A. (2009). Perspective Taking. In Harry T. Reis & Susan Sprecher (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Human Relationships (Vol. 3, pp. 1228-1231). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Abstract
Perspective taking describes a person's attempt to understand a stimulus from a different point of view. In relationships, perspective taking typically describes one person's attempt to understand a relationship partner's mental representations—his or her thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, preferences, or evaluations. Perspective taking is a broad term that is generally used to describe conscious and deliberate attempts to infer other people's mental states. Perspective taking can lead to empathy, whereby a person directly experiences another's emotional state or can induce people to experience emotions about another person's experience, such as pride or sympathy.
Journal Article

In the mood to get over yourself: Mood affects theory-of-mind use

Emotion

Benjamin A. Converse, Shuhong Lin, Boaz Keysar, Nicholas Epley

2008

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Converse, B. A., Lin, S., Keysar, B., & Epley, N. (2008). In the mood to get over yourself: Mood affects theory-of-mind use. Emotion, 8, 725-730.

Abstract
Understanding others' behavior often involves attributing mental states to them by using one's "theory of mind." We argue that using theory of mind to recognize differences between one's own perspective and another's perspective is a deliberate process of inference that may be influenced by incidental mood. Because sadness is associated with more systematic and deliberate processing whereas happiness is associated with more heuristic processing, we predicted that theory-of-mind use would be facilitated by sadness compared with happiness. Two experiments supported this prediction, demonstrating that participants were more likely to utilize knowledge about others to make inferences about their mental states when they were induced to feel sad than when they were induced to feel happy. These results provide both theoretical insight into the psychological mechanisms that govern theory of mind as well as practical insight into a common source of variability in its use.
Journal Article

Mirror, mirror on the wall: Enhancement in self-recognition

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

Nicholas Epley, Erin Whitchurch

2008

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Epley, N., & Whitchurch, E. (2008). Mirror, mirror on the wall: Enhancement in self-recognition. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 1159-1170.

Abstract
People's inferences about their own traits and abilities are often enhancing. A series of experiments suggests that this enhancement extends to more automatic and perceptual judgments as well, such that people recognize their own faces as being more physically attractive than they actually are. In each experiment, participants' faces were made more or less attractive using a morphing procedure. Participants were more likely to recognize an attractively enhanced version of their own face out of a lineup as their own, and they identified an attractively enhanced version of their face more quickly in a lineup of distractor faces. This enhancement bias occurred for both one's own face and a friend's face but not for a relative stranger's face. Such enhancement was correlated with implicit measures of self-worth but not with explicit measures, consistent with this variety of enhancement being a relatively automatic rather than deliberative process.
Journal Article

Knowing too much: Using private knowledge to predict how one is viewed by others

Psychological Science

John R. Chambers, Nicholas Epley, Kenneth Savitsky, Paul D. Windschitl

2008

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Chambers, J. R., Epley, N., Savitsky, K., & Windschitl, P. D. (2008). Knowing too much: Using private knowledge to predict how one is viewed by others. Psychological Science, 19, 542-548.

Abstract
People have more information about themselves than others do, and this fundamental asymmetry can help to explain why individuals have difficulty accurately intuiting how they appear to other people. Determining how one appears to observers requires one to utilize public information that is available to observers, but to disregard private information that they do not possess. We report a series of experiments, however, showing that people utilize privately known information about their own past performance (Experiments 1 and 2), the performance of other people (Experiment 3), and imaginary performance (Experiment 4) when intuiting how they are viewed by others. This tendency can help explain why people's beliefs about how they are judged by others often diverge from how they are actually judged.
Journal Article

Solving the (real) other minds problem

Social and Personality Psychology Compass

Nicholas Epley

2008

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Epley, N. (2008). Solving the (real) other minds problem. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2, 1455-1474.

Abstract
People care about others’ thoughts, feelings, and intentions but can have considerable difficulty reading others’ minds accurately. Recent advances in understanding how people make such inferences provide significant insight into when people are likely to be reasonably accurate mind readers and when they are not. People tend to reason about others’ mental states by starting with their own and only subsequently adjusting that egocentric default to accommodate differences between themselves and others. Such adjustments tend to be insufficient, rendering final estimates egocentrically biased. When more information about others is available, people tend to rely on existing stereotypes or other expectations to intuit others’ mental states. Systematic errors resulting either from excessive egocentrism or inaccurate expectations can lead to miscommunication, misunderstanding, and social conflict, but these biases also suggest useful strategies for improving mind reading in everyday life.
Journal Article

When we need a human: Motivational determinants of anthropomorphism

Social Cognition

Nicholas Epley, Adam Waytz, Scott Akalis, John T. Cacioppo

2008

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Epley, N., Waytz, A., Akalis, S., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2008). When we need a human: Motivational determinants of anthropomorphism. Social Cognition, 26, 143-155.

Abstract
We propose that the tendency to anthropomorphize nonhuman agents is determined primarily by three factors (Epley, Waytz, & Cacioppo, 2007), two of which we test here: sociality motivation and effectance motivation. This theory makes unique predictions about dispositional, situational, cultural, and developmental variability in anthropomorphism, and we test two predictions about dispositional and situational influences stemming from both of these motivations. In particular, we test whether those who are dispositionally lonely (sociality motivation) are more likely to anthropomorphize well-known pets (Study 1), and whether those who have a stable need for control (effectance motivation) are more likely to anthropomorphize apparently unpredictable animals (Study 2). Both studies are consistent with our predictions. We suggest that this theory of anthropomorphism can help to explain when people are likely to attribute humanlike traits to nonhuman agents, and provides insight into the inverse process of dehumanization in which people fail to attribute human characteristics to other humans.
Popular Media

Rebate psychology

The New York Times

Nicholas Epley

2008

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Epley, N. (January 31, 2008). Rebate Psychology. New York Times, A27.

Abstract
THE House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday that would try to stimulate the economy, in part, by sending “tax rebates” to more than 100 million families. The logic of a tax rebate is that people will spend more money if they have more to spend. Unfortunately, psychology may interfere with that logic.
Journal Article

Reciprocity is not give and take: Asymmetric reciprocity to positive and negative acts

Psychological Science

Boaz Keysar, Benjamin A. Converse, Jiunwen Wang, Nicholas Epley

2008

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Keysar, B., Converse, B.A., Wang, J., & Epley, N. (2008). Reciprocity is not give and take: Asymmetric reciprocity to positive and negative acts. Psychological Science, 19, 1280-1286.

Abstract
Unlike economic exchange, social exchange has no well-defined "value." It is based on the norm of reciprocity, in which giving and taking are to be repaid in equivalent measure. Although giving and taking are colloquially assumed to be equivalent actions, we demonstrate that they produce different patterns of reciprocity. In five experiments utilizing a dictator game, people reciprocated in like measure to apparently prosocial acts of giving, but reciprocated more selfishly to apparently antisocial acts of taking, even when the objective outcomes of the acts of giving and taking were identical. Additional results demonstrate that acts of giving in social exchanges are perceived as more generous than objectively identical acts of taking, that taking tends to escalate, and that the asymmetry in reciprocity is not due to gaining versus losing resources. Reciprocity appears to operate on an exchange rate that assigns value to the meaning of events, in a fashion that encourages prosocial exchanges.
Journal Article

Creating social connection through inferential reproduction: Loneliness and perceived agency in gadgets, gods, and greyhounds.

Psychological Science

Nicholas Epley, Scott Akalis, Adam Waytz, John T. Cacioppo

2008

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Epley, N., Akalis, S., Waytz, A., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2008). Creating social connection through inferential reproduction: Loneliness and perceived agency in gadgets, gods, and greyhounds. Psychological Science, 19, 114-120.

Abstract
People are motivated to maintain social connection with others, and those who lack social connection with other humans may try to compensate by creating a sense of human connection with nonhuman agents. This may occur in at least two ways—by anthropomorphizing nonhuman agents such as nonhuman animals and gadgets to make them appear more humanlike and by increasing belief in commonly anthropomorphized religious agents (such as God). Three studies support these hypotheses both among individuals who are chronically lonely (Study 1) and among those who are induced to feel lonely (Studies 2 and 3). Additional findings suggest that such results are not simply produced by any negative affective state (Study 3). These results have important implications not only for understanding when people are likely to treat nonhuman agents as humanlike (anthropomorphism), but also for understanding when people treat human agents as nonhuman (dehumanization).
Book Chapter

Perspective taking: Misstepping into others' shoes

The handbook of imagination and mental simulation

Nicholas Epley, Eugene M. Caruso

2008

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Epley, N., & Caruso, E. M. (2008). Perspective taking: Misstepping into others' shoes. In K. D. Markman, W. M. P. Klein, & J. A. Suhr (Eds.), The handbook of imagination and mental simulation (pp. 295-309). New York: Psychology Press.

Abstract
The ability to intuit another person's thoughts, feelings, and inner mental states is surely among the most impressive of human mental faculties. Adopting another's perspective requires the ability to represent the self as distinct from others, the development of a theory of mind to realize that others have mental states in the first place, and the explicit recognition that others' mental states and perceptions could differ from one's own. Understanding how perspective taking operates in everyday social life requires both a consideration of the impressive strengths of this mental ability as well as a recognition of its weaknesses. There is no question that humans are capable of adopting others' perspectives and that doing so can increase social coordination, cooperation, and even psychological altruism. Discussions of such desirable consequences of perspective taking in social interaction are numerous. Our treatment is decidedly less flattering, however, and considers in more detail the barriers that keep people from using their perspective-taking ability to its full potential. That considering another's perspective is difficult and less than perfect will be a surprise to none, but to understand why it is less than perfect and what one might do to improve the accuracy of this ability in everyday life requires an appreciation of the major barriers that keep people from using their potential abilities more completely. We believe there are three critical barriers—activating the ability, adjusting an egocentric default, and accessing accurate information about others.
Book Chapter

Egocentrism

The Encyclopedia of Educational Psychology

Benjamin A. Converse, Nicholas Epley

2008

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Converse, B., & Epley, N. (2008). Egocentrism. In N. Salkind, & K. Rasmussen (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Educational Psychology (pp 327-328). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Abstract
A child playing hide-and-seek runs to the corner of the room and covers her eyes with a pillow while her father counts to 10, believing that if she cannot see her father, then her father cannot see her. A thirsty grocery shopper spends more money than usual on bottled water and decides not to buy the salty pretzels that are on his shopping list. Political conservatives responding to an Internet poll estimate that there are more like-minded conservatives in the population than political liberals. All of these people are reasoning egocentrically. That is, they are all reasoning about the world from their own current perspectives. In the first place, people process incoming information from their own perspective. Then, they extrapolate in two ways: temporally, extending present knowledge to the past and future; and socially, extending self knowledge to others. Education involves acquiring knowledge and communicating that knowledge to others, and egocentric bias in judgment is therefore a central—but easily overlooked—issue for educators.
Journal Article

Unfixed resources: Perceived costs, consumption, and the accessible account effect

Journal of Consumer Research

Carey K. Morewedge, Leif Holtzman, Nicholas Epley

2007

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Morewedge, C., Holtzman, L. & Epley, N. (2007). Unfixed resources: Perceived costs, consumption, and the accessible account effect. Journal of Consumer Research, 34, 459-467.

Abstract
Consumption depletes one's available resources, but consumers may be unaware of the total resources available for consumption and, therefore, be influenced by the temporary accessibility of resource accounts. Consistent with this possibility, consumers in four experiments perceived a unit of consumption to be smaller and consequently consumed more, when large resource accounts of money, calories, or time (e.g., the money in their savings account) were made temporarily accessible compared with when small resource accounts were made temporarily accessible (e.g., the money in their wallet). Manipulating the cognitive accessibility of resources available for consumption influences both subjective judgment and behavior.
Journal Article

Overcoming intuition: Metacognitive difficulty activates analytical thought

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General

Adam L. Alter, Daniel M. Oppenheimer, Nicholas Epley, Rebecca N. Eyre

2007

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Alter, A., Oppenheimer, D., Epley, N., & Eyre, R. (2007). Overcoming intuition: Metacognitive difficulty activates analytical thought. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 136, 569-576.

Abstract
Humans appear to reason using two processing styles: System 1 processes that are quick, intuitive, and effortless and System 2 processes that are slow, analytical, and deliberate that occasionally correct the output of System 1. Four experiments suggest that System 2 processes are activated by metacognitive experiences of difficulty or disfluency during the process of reasoning. Incidental experiences of difficulty or disfluency--receiving information in a degraded font (Experiments 1 and 4), in difficult-to-read lettering (Experiment 2), or while furrowing one's brow (Experiment 3)--reduced the impact of heuristics and defaults in judgment (Experiments 1 and 3), reduced reliance on peripheral cues in persuasion (Experiment 2), and improved syllogistic reasoning (Experiment 4). Metacognitive experiences of difficulty or disfluency appear to serve as an alarm that activates analytic forms of reasoning that assess and sometimes correct the output of more intuitive forms of reasoning.
Journal Article

On Seeing Human: A three-factor theory of anthropomorphism

Psychological Review

Nicholas Epley, Adam Waytz, John T. Cacioppo

2007

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Epley, N., Waytz, A., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2007). On Seeing Human: A three-factor theory of anthropomorphism. Psychological Review, 114, 864-886.

Abstract
Anthropomorphism describes the tendency to imbue the real or imagined behavior of nonhuman agents with humanlike characteristics, motivations, intentions, or emotions. Although surprisingly common, anthropomorphism is not invariant. This article describes a theory to explain when people are likely to anthropomorphize and when they are not, focused on three psychological determinants--the accessibility and applicability of anthropocentric knowledge (elicited agent knowledge), the motivation to explain and understand the behavior of other agents (effectance motivation), and the desire for social contact and affiliation (sociality motivation). This theory predicts that people are more likely to anthropomorphize when anthropocentric knowledge is accessible and applicable, when motivated to be effective social agents, and when lacking a sense of social connection to other humans. These factors help to explain why anthropomorphism is so variable; organize diverse research; and offer testable predictions about dispositional, situational, developmental, and cultural influences on anthropomorphism. Discussion addresses extensions of this theory into the specific psychological processes underlying anthropomorphism, applications of this theory into robotics and human-computer interaction, and the insights offered by this theory into the inverse process of dehumanization.
Journal Article

The framing of financial windfalls and implications for public policy

The Journal of Socio-Economics

Nicholas Epley, Ayelet Gneezy

2007

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Epley, N., & Gneezy, A. (2007). The framing of financial windfalls and implications for public policy. Journal of Socio-economics, 36, 36-47.

Abstract
Governments, employers, and companies provide financial windfalls to individuals with some regularity. Recent evidence suggests that the framing (or description) of these windfalls can dramatically influence their consumption. In particular, income described as a positive departure from the status quo (e.g., as a bonus) is more readily spent than objectively identical income described as a return to the status quo (e.g., as a rebate). Such findings are consistent with psychological accounts of decision making and should supplement existing economic models. These results have important implications for the marketing of such windfalls, and discussion focuses particularly on implications for government tax policies.
Book Chapter

Prospect theory

Encyclopedia of Social Psychology

Ayelet Gneezy, Nicholas Epley

2007

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Gneezy, A., & Epley, N. (2007). Prospect Theory. In R. Baumeister, & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Social Psychology (Vol. 2, 711-714). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Abstract
Prospect Theory is a psychological account that describes how people make decisions under conditions of uncertainty. These may involve decisions about nearly anything where the outcome of the decision is somewhat risky or uncertain, from deciding whether or not to buy a lottery ticket, to marry one’s current romantic partner, to undergo chemotherapy treatment, or to invest in life insurance.
Book Chapter

Base rate fallacy

Encyclopedia of Social Psychology

Nicholas Epley

2007

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Epley, N. (2007). Base rate fallacy. In R. Baumeister, & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Social Psychology(Vol. 1, pp. 102-103). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Abstract
Imagine that you meet Tom one evening at a party. He is somewhat shy and reserved, is very analytical, and enjoys reading science fiction novels. What is the likelihood that Tom works as a computer scientist? The answer depends on both the knowledge you have about Tom and the number of computer scientists that exist in the population. Tom fits the stereotype of a computer scientist, but there are relatively few computer scientists in the general population compared to all other occupations. The knowledge you have about Tom is often called individuating or case-based information, whereas knowledge about the number of computer scientists in the general population is often called distributional or base rate information. When presented with both pieces of information—be it when judging the risk of contracting a disease, when judging the likelihood of a defendant's guilt, or when predicting the likelihood of future events—people often base their judgments too heavily on case-based or individuating information and underutilize or completely ignore distributional or base-rate evidence. Underutilizing or ignoring base-rate evidence in intuitive judgments and decision making is known as the base rate fallacy.
Journal Article

The costs and benefits of undoing egocentric responsibility assessments in groups

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Eugene M. Caruso, Nicholas Epley, Max H. Bazerman

2006

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Caruso, E.M., Epley, N., & Bazerman, M. H. (2006). The costs and benefits of undoing egocentric responsibility assessments in groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 857-871.

Abstract
Individuals working in groups often egocentrically believe they have contributed more of the total work than is logically possible. Actively considering others' contributions effectively reduces these egocentric assessments, but this research suggests that undoing egocentric biases in groups may have some unexpected costs. Four experiments demonstrate that members who contributed much to the group outcome are actually less satisfied and less interested in future collaborations after considering others' contributions compared with those who contributed little. This was especially true in cooperative groups. Egocentric biases in responsibility allocation can create conflict, but this research suggests that undoing these biases can have some unfortunate consequences. Some members who look beyond their own perspective may not like what they see.
Journal Article

Bonus or Rebate?: The impact of income framing on spending and saving

Journal of Behavioral Decision Making

Nicholas Epley, Dennis Mak, Lorraine Chen Idson

2006

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Epley, N., Mak, D., & Idson, L. (2006). Bonus or Rebate?: The impact of income framing on spending and saving. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 19, 213-227.

Abstract
All income increases a person's absolute wealth, but consumption decisions may be based more heavily on perceived changes in wealth. Change is computed by comparing a current state with a former state, and we predicted that people would be more likely to spend income framed as a gain from a current wealth state than income framed as a return to a prior state. Four experiments confirmed this prediction on people's memory for spending of a government tax rebate (Experiment 1), on unobtrusive self-report measures of spending an unexpected windfall (Experiments 2 and 3), and on actual spending on items for sale in a laboratory experiment (Experiment 4). These results can be explained, at least in part, by the reference points implied in the framing of income (follow-ups to Experiments 1 and 4). Discussion focuses on implications for the consumption of other commodities, assessments of risk, and government tax policies.
Journal Article

The mixed blessings of self-knowledge in behavioral prediction: Enhanced discrimination but exacerbated bias

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

Nicholas Epley, David Dunning

2006

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Epley, N., & Dunning, D. (2006). The mixed blessings of self-knowledge in behavioral prediction: Enhanced discrimination but exacerbated bias. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 641-655.

Abstract
Four experiments demonstrate that self-knowledge provides a mixed blessing in behavioral prediction, depending on how accuracy is measured. Compared with predictions of others, self-knowledge tends to decrease overall accuracy by increasing bias (the mean difference between predicted behavior and reality) but tends to increase overall accuracy by also enhancing discrimination (the correlation between predicted behavior and reality). Overall, participants' self-predictions overestimated the likelihood that they would engage in desirable behaviors (bias), whereas peer predictions were relatively unbiased. However, self-predictions also were more strongly correlated with individual differences in actual behavior (discrimination) than were peer predictions. Discussion addresses the costs and benefits of self-knowledge in behavioral prediction and the broader implications of measuring judgmental accuracy of judgment in terms of bias versus discrimination.
Journal Article

The anchoring and adjustment heuristic: Why adjustments are insufficient.

Psychological Science

Nicholas Epley, Thomas Gilovich

2006

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Epley, N., & Gilovich, T. (2006). The anchoring and adjustment heuristic: Why adjustments are insufficient. Psychological Science,17, 311-318.

Abstract
One way to make judgments under uncertainty is to anchor on information that comes to mind and adjust until a plausible estimate is reached. This anchoring-and-adjustment heuristic is assumed to underlie many intuitive judgments, and insufficient adjustment is commonly invoked to explain judgmental biases. However, despite extensive research on anchoring effects, evidence for adjustment-based anchoring biases has only recently been provided, and the causes of insufficient adjustment remain unclear. This research was designed to identify the origins of insufficient adjustment. The results of two sets of experiments indicate that adjustments from self-generated anchor values tend to be insufficient because they terminate once a plausible value is reached (Studies 1a and 1b) unless one is able and willing to search for a more accurate estimate (Studies 2a-2c).
Journal Article

When perspective taking increases taking: Reactive Egoism in social interaction

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Nicholas Epley, Eugene M. Caruso, Max H. Bazerman

2006

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Epley, N., Caruso, E.M., & Bazerman, M. H. (2006). When perspective taking increases taking: Reactive Egoism in social interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 872-889.

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.
Book Chapter

The good, the bad, and the ugly of perspective taking in groups

Research on Managing Groups and Teams

Eugene M. Caruso, Nicholas Epley, Max H. Bazerman

2006

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Caruso, E.M., Epley, N., & Bazerman, M. H. (2006). The good, the bad, and the ugly of perspective taking in groups. In E.A., Mannix, M.A. Neale (Series Eds.) and A.E. Tenbrunsel (Vol. Ed.). Research on Managing Groups and Teams: Ethics and Groups: Vol. 8. Ethics in Groups (pp. 201-224). London: Elsevier.

Abstract
Group members often reason egocentrically, both when allocating responsibility for collective endeavors and when assessing the fairness of group outcomes. These self-centered judgments are reduced when participants consider their other group members individually or actively adopt their perspectives. However, reducing an egocentric focus through perspective taking may also invoke cynical theories about how others will behave, particularly in competitive contexts. Expecting more selfish behavior from other group members may result in more self-interested behavior from the perspective takers themselves. This suggests that one common approach to conflict resolution between and within groups can have unfortunate consequences on actual behavior.
Journal Article

Egocentrism over e-mail: Can we communicate as well as we think?

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Justin Kruger, Nicholas Epley, Jason Parker, Zhi-Wen Ng

2005

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Kruger, J., Epley, N., Parker, J., & Ng, Z. (2005). Egocentrism over email: Can we communicate as well as we think? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 925-936.

Abstract
Without the benefit of paralinguistic cues such as gesture, emphasis, and intonation, it can be difficult to convey emotion and tone over electronic mail (e-mail). Five experiments suggest that this limitation is often underappreciated, such that people tend to believe that they can communicate over e-mail more effectively than they actually can. Studies 4 and 5 further suggest that this overconfidence is born of egocentrism, the inherent difficulty of detaching oneself from one's own perspective when evaluating the perspective of someone else. Because e-mail communicators "hear" a statement differently depending on whether they intend to be, say, sarcastic or funny, it can be difficult to appreciate that their electronic audience may not.
Journal Article

Explanations Versus Applications: The Explanatory Power of Valuable Beliefs

Psychological Science

Jesse L. Preston, Nicholas Epley

2005

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Preston, J., & Epley, N. (2005). Explanations versus applications: The explanatory power of valuable beliefs. Psychological Science,18, 826-832.

Abstract
People hold beliefs that vary not only in their perceived truth, but also in their value to the believer--their meaning, relevance, and importance. We argue that a belief's value is determined, at least in part, by its explanatory power. Highly valuable beliefs are those that can uniquely explain and organize a diverse set of observations. Less valuable beliefs, in contrast, are those that can be explained by other observations, or that explain and organize few observations. The results of three experiments are consistent with these hypotheses. These experiments demonstrate that applying either scientific or religious beliefs to explain other observations increases the perceived value of those beliefs, whereas generating explanations for the existence of beliefs decreases their perceived value. Discussion focuses on the implications of these findings for people's resistance to explaining their own beliefs, for the perceived value of science and religion, and for culture wars between people holding opposing beliefs.
Journal Article

The Unpacking Effect in Allocations of Responsibility for Group Tasks

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Kenneth Savitsky, Leaf Van Boven, Nicholas Epley, Wayne M. Wight

2005

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Savitsky, K., Van Boven, L, Epley, N, & Wight, W. (2005). The unpacking effect in responsibility allocations for group tasks. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 41, 447-457.

Abstract
Individuals tend to overestimate their relative contributions to collaborative endeavors. Thus, the sum of group members! estimates of the percentage they each contributed to a joint task typically exceeds the logically allowable 100%. We suggest that this tendency stems partly from individuals! inclination to regard their fellow group members as a collective rather than as individuals, and that leading people to think about their collaborators as individuals should therefore reduce the perceived relative magnitude of their own contributions. Consistent with this thesis, four experiments demonstrate that people!s tendency to claim more than their fair share of the credit for a group task is attenuated when they "unpack" their collaborators, conceptualizing them as separate individuals, rather than as "the rest of the group."
Journal Article

When what you type isn’t what they read: The perseverance of stereotypes and expectancies over e-mail

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Nicholas Epley, Justin Kruger

2005

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Epley, N., & Kruger, J. (2005). When what you type isn't what they read: The perseverance of stereotypes and expectancies over email. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 41, 414-422.

Abstract
People form impressions of others by communicating with them, but not all modes of communication transmit information with equal fidelity. E-mail, for instance, is an inherently more limited mode of communication than is voice because of its relative lack of paralinguistic and non-verbal cues. The present research investigated the implication of this distinction for the biasing influence of stereotypes and expectancies. Three experiments demonstrated that racial stereotypes and bogus expectancies influence people’s impressions of a target more strongly over e-mail than voice interactions (Studies 1–3). This occurred despite an experimental design that ensured that the word-for-word content was constant across the two mediums. Follow-up analyses revealed that the effect was due, at least in part, to the greater ambiguity of e-mail versus voice communication (Study 3). Although e-mail affords many benefits, the present research suggests that it may also have some unexpected costs.
Journal Article

When Effortful Thinking Influences Judgmental Anchoring: Differential Effects of Forewarning and Incentives on Self-generated and Externally Provided Anchors

Journal of Behavioral Decision Making

Nicholas Epley, Thomas Gilovich

2005

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Epley, N., & Gilovich, T. (2005). When effortful thinking influences judgmental anchoring: Differential effects of forewarning and incentives on self-generated and externally-provided anchors. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 18, 199-212.

Abstract
Two experiments examined the impact of financial incentives and forewarnings on judgmental anchoring effects, or the tendency for judgments of uncertain qualities to be biased in the direction of salient anchor values. Previous research has found no effect of either manipulation on the magnitude of anchoring effects. We argue, however, that anchoring effects are produced by multiple mechanisms—one involving an effortful process of adjustment from “self-generated” anchors, and another involving the biased recruitment of anchor-consistent information from “externally provided” anchors—and that only the former should be influenced by incentives and forewarning. Two studies confirmed these predictions, showing that responses to “self-generated” anchors are influenced by both incentives and forewarnings whereas responses to “externally provided” anchors are not. Discussion focuses on the implications of these effects for debiasing efforts.
Journal Article

Psychology, Behavioral Economics, and Public Policy

Marketing Letters

On Amir, Dan Ariely, Alan Cooke, David Dunning, Nicholas Epley, Uri Gneezy, Botond Koszegi

2005

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Amir, O., Ariely, D., Cooke, A., Dunning, D., Epley, N., Gneezy, U., Koszegi, B., Lichtenstein, D., Mazar, N., Mullainathan, S., Prelec, D., Shafir, E., & Silva, J. (2005). Psychology, behavioral economics, and public policy. Marketing Letters, 16, 443-454.

Abstract
Economics has typically been the social science of choice to inform public policy and policymakers. In the current paper we contemplate the role behavioral science can play in enlightening policymakers. In particular, we provide some examples of research that has and can be used to inform policy, reflect on the kind of behavioral science that is important for policy, and approaches for convincing policy-makers to listen to behavioral scientists. We suggest that policymakers are unlikely to invest the time translating behavioral research into its policy implications, and researchers interested in influencing public policy must therefore invest substantial effort, and direct that effort differently than in standard research practices
Book Chapter

Shallow thoughts about the self: The automatic components of self-assessment

The Self in Social Perception

Thomas Gilovich, Nicholas Epley, Karlene Hanko

2005

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Gilovich, T., Epley, N., & Hanko, K. (2005). Shallow thoughts about the self: The automatic components of self-assessment. To appear in M. Alicke, D. Dunning, & J. Krueger (Eds.), The Self in Social Perception (pp. 67-84). New York: Taylor & Francis.

Abstract
It is not our intent to coin a new term, but any review of the pertinent social psychological literature leads to the conclusion that people are prone to an illusion of personal strength. That is, people's assessments of their own abilities to meet various challenges exceed the best dispassionate analyses of those abilities. People read about Milgram's obedience experiments and come away convinced that they, unlike the majority of actual participants in those studies, would be strong enough to stand their ground and disobey the experimenter (Bierbrauer, 1979). People read about the various bystander (non)intervention studies and likewise remain convinced that they would have sufficient strength to overcome the fear of embarrassment and come to the rescue. And people's assessments of their own traits and abilities have been shown, time and time again, to be overly optimistic (see Alicke & Govorun, this volume). Our aim in this chapter is to shed light on why people are prone to such an illusion of personal strength. This aim is likely to make some readers wonder whether we are prone to the illusion of personal strength ourselves. After all, there are already perfectly satisfactory explanations of the various manifestations of this illusion. Do we really have anything useful to add? Is another perspective likely to advance our discipline's understanding of these phenomena? Does the discipline really need yet another explanation of the above average effect? We believe there is still much to be learned about the processes that give rise to the various manifestations of the illusion of personal strength.
Journal Article

Perspective taking in children and adults: Equivalent egocentrism but differential correction

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Nicholas Epley, Carey K. Morewedge, Boaz Keysar

2004

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Epley, N., Morewedge, C., & Keysar, B. (2004). Perspective taking in children and adults: Equivalent egocentrism but differential correction. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 760-768.

Abstract
Children generally behave more egocentrically than adults when assessing another's perspective. We argue that this difference does not, however, indicate that adults process information less egocentrically than children, but rather that adults are better able to subsequently correct an initial egocentric interpretation. An experiment tracking participants' eye movements during a referential communication task indicated that children and adults were equally quick to interpret a spoken instruction egocentrically but differed in the speed with which they corrected that interpretation and looked at the intended (i.e., non-egocentric) object. The existing differences in egocentrism between children and adults therefore seems less a product of where people start in their perspective taking process than where they stop, with lingering egocentric biases among adults produced by insufficient correction of an automatic moment of egocentrism. We suggest that this pattern of similarity in automatic, but not controlled, processes may explain between-group differences in a variety of dual-process judgments.
Journal Article

Perspective Taking as Egocentric Anchoring and Adjustment

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Nicholas Epley, Boaz Keysar, Leaf Van Boven, Thomas Gilovich

2004

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Epley, N., Keysar, B., Van Boven, L., & Gilovich, T. (2004). Perspective taking as egocentric anchoring and adjustment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 327-339.

Abstract
The authors propose that people adopt others' perspectives by serially adjusting from their own. As predicted, estimates of others' perceptions were consistent with one's own but differed in a manner consistent with serial adjustment (Study 1). Participants were slower to indicate that another's perception would be different from--rather than similar to--their own (Study 2). Egocentric biases increased under time pressure (Study 2) and decreased with accuracy incentives (Study 3). Egocentric biases also increased when participants were more inclined to accept plausible values encountered early in the adjustment process than when inclined to reject them (Study 4). Finally, adjustments tend to be insufficient, in part, because people stop adjusting once a plausible estimate is reached (Study 5).
Journal Article

Egocentric Ethics

Social Justice Research

Nicholas Epley, Eugene M. Caruso

2004

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Epley, N., & Caruso, E. (2004). Egocentric ethics. Social Justice Research, 17, 171-187.

Abstract
Ethical judgments are often egocentrically biased, such that moral reasoners tend to conclude that self-interested outcomes are not only desirable but morally justifiable. Although such egocentric ethics can arise from deliberate self-interested reasoning, we suggest that they may also arise through unconscious and automatic psychological mechanisms. People automatically interpret their perceptions egocentrically, automatically evaluate stimuli on a semantic differential as positive or negative, and base their moral judgments on affective reactions to stimuli. These three automatic and unconscious features of human judgment can help to explain not only why ethical judgments are egocentrically biased, but also why such subjective perceptions can appear objective and unbiased to moral reasoners themselves.
Journal Article

Are Adjustments Insufficient?

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

Nicholas Epley, Thomas Gilovich

2004

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Epley, N., & Gilovich, T. (2004). Are adjustments insufficient?Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30,447-460.

Abstract
Many judgmental biases are thought to be the product of insufficient adjustment from an initial anchor value. Nearly all existing evidence of insufficient adjustment, however, comes from an experimental paradigm that evidence indicates does not involve adjustment at all. In this article, the authors first provide further evidence that some kinds of anchors (those that are self-generated and known to be incorrect but close to the correct answer) activate processes of adjustment, whereas others (uncertain anchors provided by an external source) do not. It is then shown that adjustment from self-generated anchors does indeed tend to be insufficient, both by comparing the estimates of participants starting from different anchor values and by comparing estimates with actual answers. Thus, evidence is provided of adjustment-based anchoring effects similar to the accessibility-based anchoring effects observed in the traditional anchoring paradigm, supporting theories of social judgment that rely on mechanisms of insufficient adjustment.
Journal Article

Balance where it really counts

Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Nicholas Epley, Leaf Van Boven, Eugene M. Caruso

2004

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Epley, N., Van Boven, L., & Caruso, E. (2004). Balance where it really counts. Behavioral and Brain Sciences,27, 33.

Abstract
A balanced approach that considers human strengths and weaknesses will lead to a more flattering set of empirical findings, but will distract researchers from focusing on the mental processes that produce such findings and will diminish the practical implications of their work. Psychologists ought to be doing research that is theoretically informative and practically relevant, exactly as they are doing.
Book Chapter

A tale of tuned decks? Anchoring as accessibility and anchoring as adjustment

Blackwell Handbook of Judgment and Decision Making

Nicholas Epley

2004

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Citation

Epley, N. (2004). A Tale of Tuned Decks? Anchoring as accessibility and anchoring as adjustment. In D.J. Koehler, & N. Harvey (Eds.), The Blackwell Handbook of Judgment and Decision Making (pp. 240-256). Oxford, U.K.: Blackwell Publishers.

Abstract
This chapter is intended to add one of the most widely studied biases in human judgment to this list of psychological "tuned decks"--judgmental anchoring. Across ever-expanding domains, people's estimates of uncertain qualities are biased in the direction of a salient comparison value or "anchor." Although easy to demonstrate, such anchoring biases have not been so easy to explain (Strack & Mussweiler, 1997). One reason for this difficulty, it appears, is that psychologists have been seeking a single solution. In fact, judgmental anchoring is not a single mental trick but a set of tricks. How many tricks? At least two.
Journal Article

The unpacking effect in evaluative judgments: When the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Leaf Van Boven, Nicholas Epley

2003

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Van Boven, L., & Epley, N. (2003). The unpacking effect in evaluative judgments: When the whole is less than the sum of its parts. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 39, 263-269.

Abstract
Any category or event can be described in more or less detail. Although these different descriptions can reflect the same event objectively, they may not reflect the same event subjectively. Research on Support Theory led us to predict that more detailed descriptions would produce more extreme evaluations of categories or events than less detailed descriptions. Four experiments demonstrated this unpacking effect when people were presented with (Experiments 1 and 4), generated (Experiment 2), or were primed with (Experiment 3) more rather than less detailed descriptions of events. This effect was diminished when the details were less personally relevant (Experiment 4). We discuss several psychological mechanisms, moderators, and extensions of the unpacking effect.
Journal Article

Empathy Neglect: Reconciling the Spotlight Effect and the Correspondence Bias

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Nicholas Epley, Kenneth Savitsky, Thomas Gilovich

2002

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Epley, N., Savitsky, K., & Gilovich, T. (2002). Empathy Neglect: Reconciling the spotlight effect and the correspondence bias. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 300-312.

Abstract
When people commit an embarrassing blunder, they typically overestimate how harshly they will be judged by others. This tendency can seem to fly in the face of research on the correspondence bias, which has established that observers are, in fact, quite likely to draw harsh dispositional inferences about others. These seemingly inconsistent literatures are reconciled by showing that actors typically neglect to consider the extent to which observers will moderate their correspondent inferences when they can easily adopt an actor's perspective or imagine being in his or her shoes. These results help to explain why actors can overestimate the strength of observers' dispositional inferences even when, as the literature on the correspondence bias attests, observers are notoriously prone to drawing those very inferences.
Journal Article

Putting Adjustment Back in the Anchoring and Adjustment Heuristic: Differential Processing of Self-Generated and Experimenter-Provided Anchors

Psychological Science

Nicholas Epley, Thomas Gilovich

2001

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Epley, N., & Gilovich, T. (2001). Putting adjustment back in the anchoring and adjustment heuristic: Divergent processing of self-generated and experimenter-provided anchors. Psychological Science, 12, 391-396.

Abstract
People's estimates of uncertain quantities are commonly influenced by irrelevant values. These anchoring effects were originally explained as insufficient adjustment away from an initial anchor value. The existing literature provides little support for the postulated process of adjustment, however, and a consensus that none takes place seems to be emerging. We argue that this conclusion is premature, and we present evidence that insufficient adjustment produces anchoring effects when the anchors are self-generated. In Study 1, participants' verbal reports made reference to adjustment only, from self-generated anchors. In Studies 2 and 3, participants induced to accept values by nodding their heads gave answers that were closer to an anchor (i.e., they adjusted less) than participants induced to deny values by shaking their heads--again, only when the anchor was self-generated. These results suggest it is time to reintroduce anchoring and adjustment as an explanation for some judgments under uncertainty.
Journal Article

Do Others Judge Us as Harshly as We Think? Overestimating the Impact of Our Failures, Shortcomings, and Mishaps

JPSP

Kenneth Savitsky, Nicholas Epley, Thomas Gilovich

2001

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Savitsky, K., Epley, N., & Gilovich, T. (2001). Do others judge us as harshly as we think? Overestimating the impact of our failures, shortcomings, and mishaps. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 44-56.

Abstract
When people suffer an embarrassing blunder, social mishap, or public failure, they often feel that their image has been severely tarnished in the eyes of others. Four studies demonstrate that these fears are commonly exaggerated. Actors who imagined committing one of several social blunders (Study 1), who experienced a public intellectual failure (Studies 2 and 3), or who were described in an embarrassing way (Study 4) anticipated being judged more harshly by others than they actually were. These exaggerated fears were produced, in part, by the actors' tendency to be inordinately focused on their misfortunes and by their resulting failure to consider the wider range of situational factors that tend to moderate onlookers' impressions. Discussion focuses on additional mechanisms that may contribute to overly pessimistic expectations as well as the role of such expectations in producing unnecessary social anxiety.
Journal Article

Feeling "Holier Than Thou": Are Self-Serving Assessments Produced by Errors in Self- or Social Prediction?

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Nicholas Epley, David Dunning

2000

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Epley, N., & Dunning, D. (2000). Feeling “Holier than thou”: Are self-serving assessments produced by errors in self or social prediction?Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 861-875.

Abstract
People typically believe they are more likely to engage in selfless, kind, and generous behaviors than their peers, a result that is both logically and statistically suspect. However, this oft-documented tendency presents an important ambiguity. Do people feel "holier than thou" because they harbor overly cynical views of their peers (but accurate impressions of themselves) or overly charitable views of themselves (and accurate impressions of their peers)? Four studies suggested it was the latter. Participants consistently overestimated the likelihood that they would act in generous or selfless ways, whereas their predictions of others were considerably more accurate. Two final studies suggest this divergence in accuracy arises, in part, because people are unwilling to consult population base rates when predicting their own behavior but use this diagnostic information more readily when predicting others'.
Journal Article

Just Going Along: Nonconscious Priming and Conformity to Social Pressure

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Nicholas Epley, Thomas Gilovich

1999

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Epley, N., & Gilovich, T. (1999). Just going along: Nonconscious priming and conformity to social pressure. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 578-589.

Abstract
This research investigates whether conformity can be elicited or suppressed by nonconscious priming. In Experiment 1, participants were primed for either conformity or nonconformity using a scrambled sentences task and later placed into a conformity situation. As predicted, participants primed with conformity expressed views that were more similar to those of experimental confederates than did participants primed with nonconformity. To investigate whether the influence of the primes was symmetric, Experiment 2 included a neutral prime condition. Participants primed with conformity again tended to conform more than those in the other two groups, but the nonconformity primes did not induce participants to rebel against the group norm. Discussion focuses on the asymmetry in the effectiveness of the conformity and nonconformity primes.
Journal Article

What Every Skeptic Should Know About Subliminal Persuasion

Skeptical Inquirer

Nicholas Epley, Kenneth Savitsky, Robert A. Kachelski

1999

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Epley, N., Savitsky, K., & Kachelski, R.A. (1999). What every skeptic should know about subliminal persuasion.Skeptical Inquirer, 23, 40-45,58.

Abstract
Classic research by cognitive and social psychologists suggests that subliminally presented stimuli can be perceived and can influence individuals’ low-level cognitions. More recent investigations suggest that such stimuli can also affect individuals’ high-level cognitive processes, including attitudes, preferences, judgments, and even their behavior.
Journal Article

Suspicion, Affective Response, and Educational Benefit as a Result of Deception in Psychology Research

Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin

Nicholas Epley, Chuck Huff

1998

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Epley, N., & Huff, C. (1998). Suspicion, affective response, and educational benefit as a result of deception in psychology research. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24, 759-768.

Abstract
This research evaluated participants' reactions to deception in experiments by having them participate in a replication of a deception experiment. Half of the participants were made aware of this deception immediately, whereas the other half were not. Participants reported little negative impact from being deceived, but significant negative effects were reported on the basis of receiving negative feedback (a manipulation in the deception experiment). Furthermore, participants who were informed of the deception became more suspicious than uninformed participants, and this effect lasted for 3 months after the initial experience. Thus, deception may not be as costly to participants as commonly believed. From a cost-benefit standpoint, other issues (e.g., suspicion and negative stimuli in experiments) should be of greater concern.