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Who helps more? How self-other discrepancies influence decisions in helping situations

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  • Tehila Kogut
  • Ruth Beyth-Marom
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    Abstract

    Research has shown that people perceive themselves as less biased than others, and as better than average in many favorable characteristics. We suggest that these types of biased perceptions regarding intentions and behavior of others may directly affect people's decisions. In the current research we focus on possible influences in the context of helping behavior. In four experiments we found that, people believe that others, compared to themselves, are less inclined to help and cooperate, are less aware of the number of bystanders and more influenced by the ``proportion dominance'' bias and by the ``identifiable victim effect.'' We demonstrate that these perceptions are na\"ive and unrealistic by showing that decisions from both self and others' perspectives are equally biased. Finally, we show how the perspective from which a decision is made (self vs.\ others) may affect private as well as public decisions in ways that might not be in the best interest of the decision maker and the public.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Society for Judgment and Decision Making in its journal Judgment and Decision Making.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 8 (December)
    Pages: 595-606

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    Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:3:y:2008:i:8:p:595-606

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    Keywords: Helping behavior; self-other discrepancies; better than average; proportion dominance; identifiable victim; bystander effect.;

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    1. Baron, Jonathan, 1997. "Confusion of Relative and Absolute Risk in Valuation," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 301-9, May-June.
    2. Jenni, Karen E & Loewenstein, George, 1997. "Explaining the "Identifiable Victim Effect."," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 235-57, May-June.
    3. Fetherstonhaugh, David, et al, 1997. "Insensitivity to the Value of Human Life: A Study of Psychophysical Numbing," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 283-300, May-June.
    4. Kogut, Tehila & Ritov, Ilana, 2005. "The singularity effect of identified victims in separate and joint evaluations," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 106-116, July.
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