General Meeting of the European Association of Experimental Social Psychology edition:13 location:San Sebastian date:26-29 June 2002
To test if comparative optimism occurs when people estimate the likelihood of personally relevant rather than experimenter-provided events, students were asked to write down events that might happen in either their own future or in the future of the average student and that were either ‘desirable or undesirable’ or ‘controllable or uncontrollable’. They estimated both their own likelihood and the average peer student’s likelihood to experience each event. Participants named more desirable events for themselves than for the average other. In addition, the likelihood estimates for oneself and the average other yielded a ‘traditional’ demonstration of comparative optimism using idiosyncratic rather than experimenter-provided stimulus events. Interestingly, participants did not name more controllable events for themselves than for the average other, thus further demonstrating the relative independence of comparative optimism and the illusion of comparative control. The implications of these findings for the nature and scope of comparative optimism are discussed.