I Think, You Behave

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Science  29 Jun 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5833, pp. 1814
DOI: 10.1126/science.316.5833.1814a

A trendy consumer good, such as the iPhone on sale today, undoubtedly enjoys a boost in sales due to the desire of some purchasers to fit in. Pronin et al. show that undergraduates, when queried afterward about their support for or opposition to a panel's recommendations concerning Ivy League institutional procedures, judged their own pattern of votes to be based upon the content of the issues, yet explained the votes of a fictitious other—actually merely the subject's own choices shuffled—as being influenced by the panel (for more on social conformity, see Hauert et al., this issue, p. 1905). It may seem obvious that we know more about our own beliefs than those of others, and therefore that we regard our own choices as the product of rational deliberation while regarding the choices of others as a response to social pressure. Nevertheless, in a different design but similar scenario—voting on political issues in accordance with or contrary to one's party affiliation—the issue of asymmetric access to introspective information was addressed by asking each person (the actor) in one half of the subject group to record his or her thoughts during the decision-making period, and by then providing these thoughts, along with the corresponding votes, to a subject (the observer) in the other half of the group. Thus, even when the same information and behavior were being assessed, the value placed upon the information (relative to behavior) was greater for the actor than the observer. — GJC

J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 92, 585 (2007).

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