Bi-annual conference on Subjective Probability, Utility and Decision Making of the European Association for Decision Making edition:18 location:Amsterdam date:19-22 August 2001
According to a cognitive egocentrism view, comparative optimism occurs because people onesidedly consider their own desirable instrumental behaviors when estimating their relative chances of experiencing positive and negative events as compared to those of others. However, attempts to influence the occurrence of comparative optimism based on this hypothesis have generally failed. Therefore, the hypothesis was formulated that people evaluate their personal control over controllable events relatively adequately. However, they fail to consider the mere fact that other people have personal control over the risks occurring in their lifes as well as they do.
To test this control neglect hypothesis, a series of experiments was designed in which participants gave likelihood estimates for themselves and the average peer. Attention to the average other's personal control over the positive and negative events under study was manipulated by manipulating the occurrence of a control rating task before the likelihood estimation task. Eliciting control ratings for the average other reduced comparative optimism while eliciting control ratings for oneself did not affect it, thus supporting the control neglect hypothesis. The implications for the nature and the explanation of the phenomenon of comparative optimism will be discussed.