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An illusion of control modulates the reluctance to tempt fate

Listed author(s):
  • Chloe L. Swirsky
  • Philip M. Fernbach
  • Steven A. Sloman
Registered author(s):

    The tempting fate effect is that the probability of a fateful outcome is deemed higher following an action that ``tempts'' the outcome than in the absence of such an action. In this paper we evaluate the hypothesis that the effect is due to an illusion of control induced by a causal framing of the situation. Causal frames require that the action make a difference to an outcome and that the action precedes the outcome. If an illusion of control modulates the reluctance to tempt fate, then actions that make a difference to well-being and that occur prior to the outcome should tempt fate most strongly. In Experiments 1--3 we varied whether the action makes a difference and the temporal order of action and outcome. In Experiment 4 we tested whether an action can tempt fate if all outcomes are negative. The results of all four experiments supported our hypothesis that the tempting fate effect depends on a causal construal that gives rise to a false sense of control.

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

    Volume (Year): 6 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 7 (October)
    Pages: 688-696

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    Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:6:y:2011:i:7:p:688-696
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