Social Comparison, Aspirations and Priming: When Fiction is as Powerful as Fact
AbstractThis study uses a novel application of priming to provide experimental evidence that aspirations and social comparisons may be influenced by non factual sources. A textual narrative eliciting social comparison is shown to dramatically alter material aspirations. This is despite the narrative not presenting any new information, relying instead on participants' existing knowledge. However the effect of the priming rapidly dissipates when attention is redirected to unrelated tasks. These findings build on literature examining the influence of media, social comparison and aspirations on well-being. The findings build support for the claim that media exposure may distort perceptions of status with implications for satisfaction, education attainment and risk preferences. It also demonstrates that at least in the short run, preferences in general and aspirations in particular are highly suggestible.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University of Sydney, School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2012-02.
Date of creation: Jan 2012
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