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Positive Illusions Part 1. The Better-Than-Average Effect. Tendency for people to rate themselves higher than the average peer on positive traits and lower than the average peer on negative traits. Desirability, Control and the BTA Effect. Alicke (1985)

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the better than average effect
The Better-Than-Average Effect

Tendency for people to rate themselves higher than the average peer on positive traits and lower than the average peer on negative traits.

desirability control and the bta effect
Desirability, Control and the BTA Effect

Alicke (1985)

  • Created list of 154 trait adjectives, which were normed for desirability and controllability.
  • Participants rated self and average student on each trait.
predicting future events
Predicting Future Events

Weinstein (1980):

  • P’s rated the relative likelihood of 42 events happening to them.
  • P’s also rated each trait for probability, controllability, desirability, personal experience, and salience of a high chance group.
results weinstein 1980
Results (Weinstein, 1980)
  • Evidence for unrealistic optimism (aka optimistic bias, comparative optimism).
  • For positive events, predictions were positively related to desirability and probability.
  • For negative events, predictions were positively related to personal experience, but negatively related to controllability and stereotype salience.
moderators of the bta effect alicke govorun 2005
Moderators of the BTA effect (Alicke & Govorun, 2005)
  • Direct vs. indirect method
  • Nature of judgment dimension
  • Comparison target
  • Individual differences
nature of the judgment dimension
Nature of the Judgment Dimension

Dunning et al. (1989): %ile ratings on the following traits.

comparison target
Comparison Target

Alicke et al. (1995):

Participants rate themselves (on a list of 40 trait words) relative to the average student or the student sitting next to them in the room.

BTA effect occurred on almost all traits in both conditions.

But, the BTA effect was stronger in the average student condition.

explaining the bta effect
Explaining the BTA effect
  • Selective recruitment.
  • Egocentrism.
  • Focalism.
  • Self vs. Aggregate comparison.
  • BTA heuristic.
egocentrism in comparative evaluation kruger 1999
Egocentrism in Comparative EvaluationKruger (1999)

Self, average peer, and percentile ratings of:

Using a computer mouse

Driving

Riding a bicycle

Saving money

Telling jokes

Playing chess

Juggling

Computer programming

egocentrism in comparative evaluation kruger 199915
Egocentrism in Comparative EvaluationKruger (1999)

Ability Difficulty %ile

Using mouse 3.1 58.8**

Driving 3.6 65.4**

Riding a bicycle 3.9 64.0**

Saving money 4.3 61.5**

Telling jokes 6.1 46.4

Playing chess 7.1 27.8**

Juggling 8.3 26.5**

PC programming 8.7 24.8**

*p<.05, **p<.01

egocentrism in comparative evaluation kruger 199916
Egocentrism in Comparative EvaluationKruger (1999)

Judgmental weight of

Ability Difficulty %ile self-rating other-rating

Using mouse 3.1 58.8** .21 .06

Driving 3.6 65.4** .89** -.25*

Riding a bicycle 3.9 64.0** .61** -.02

Saving money 4.3 61.5** .90** -.25**

Telling jokes 6.1 46.4 .91** -.03

Playing chess 7.1 27.8** .96** -.22**

Juggling 8.3 26.5** .89** -.16

PC programming 8.7 24.8** .85** -.10

*p<.05, **p<.01

egocentrism vs focalism moore kim 2003
Egocentrism vs. Focalism(Moore & Kim, 2003)
  • IV: Easy vs. difficult trivia quiz.
  • DV: $ bet (up to $3) on beating a randomly selected other participant.
  • Result: Participants in the easy condition bet significantly more (M = $1.95) than did those in the difficult condition (M = $1.29).