Social Cognition Network Meeting edition:2 location:Heidelberg date:31 August - 3 September 2000
Controllable negative events elicit stronger comparative optimism than uncontrollable ones. Different hypotheses have been formulated to explain this relationship between comparative optimism. According to a dual-process hypothesis, people use different strategies to estimate likelihoods pertaining to events occurring in their own lifes versus other people’s lifes, and considerations related to personal control are relevant to the strategies used to arrive at likelihood estimates for oneself only. According to a comparative control hypothesis, people believe that they are more in control over controllable events than others. Hence they believe that they are more likely to avoid controllable risks. According to a cognitive egocentrism view, people base risk estimates for controllable events on a review of their own and other people’s preventive behaviors. While doing so, they onesidedly consider their own preventive behaviors while neglecting other people’s. Finally, the control neglect hypothesis states that people evaluate their own personal control over controllable events relatively adequately. However, they fail to consider the degree to which other people have personal control over the risks occurring in their lifes and thence to which these others may influence their own chances to encounter these risks. A recent research program was designed to test and to compare these four hypotheses. Findings from studies in which subjects gave both likelihood and control ratings for oneself and the average other person favoured the cognitive egocentrism and the control neglect hypotheses above the other two hypothesis.