Perish the Forethought: Premeditation Engenders Misperceptions of Personal Control

Published on May 1, 2010
· DOI :10.2139/SSRN.2518577
Carey K. Morewedge27
Estimated H-index: 27
(BU: Boston University),
Kurt Gray32
Estimated H-index: 32
(Harvard University),
Daniel M. Wegner85
Estimated H-index: 85
(Harvard University)
People are normally encouraged to engage in premeditation — to think about the potential consequences of their behavior before acting. Indeed, planning, considering, and studying can be important precursors to decision-making, and often seem essential for effective action. This view of premeditation is shared by most humans, a kind of universal ideal, and it carries an additional interesting implication: Even the hint that premeditation occurred can serve as a potent cue indicating voluntary action, both to actors and observers. In legal and moral contexts, for example, actors are seen as especially culpable for the consequences of their actions if those consequences were premeditated, whether or not the premeditation influenced the decision. In this chapter, we review evidence indicating that even irrelevant premeditation can lead people to believe that an action’s consequences were under personal control. We present research exploring how various forms of premeditation — including foresight, effortful forethought, wishful thinking, and the consideration of multiple possible outcomes of action — may lead actors to prefer and to feel responsible for action outcomes even when this premeditation has no causal relation to the outcomes.
📖 Papers frequently viewed together
1 Author (Henri Prade)
2 Citations
1 Author (Michael Smith)
1 Citations
2 Citations
#1Kelly G. ShaverH-Index: 26
635 Citations
#1E. J. Masicampo (FSU: Florida State University)H-Index: 17
#2Roy F. Baumeister (FSU: Florida State University)H-Index: 173
This experiment used the attraction effect to test the hypothesis that ingestion of sugar can reduce re- liance on intuitive, heuristic-based decision making. In the attraction effect, a difficult choice between two options is swayed by the presence of a seemingly irrelevant ''decoy'' option. We replicated this effect and the finding that the effect increases when people have depleted their mental resources performing a previous self-control task. Our hy- pothesis was based on the assumption tha...
446 CitationsSource
2 Citations
#1Kathleen D. Vohs (UMN: University of Minnesota)H-Index: 91
#2Jonathan W. Schooler (UBC: University of British Columbia)H-Index: 78
Does moral behavior draw on a belief in free will? Two experiments examined whether inducing participants to believe that human behavior is predetermined would encourage cheating. In Experiment 1, participants read either text that encouraged a belief in determinism (i.e., that portrayed behavior as the consequence of environmental and genetic factors) or neutral text. Exposure to the deterministic message increased cheating on a task in which participants could passively allow a flawed computer...
886 CitationsSource
#1Jens Förster (JU: Jacobs University Bremen)H-Index: 54
#2Nira Liberman (TAU: Tel Aviv University)H-Index: 67
Last. Ronald S. Friedman (SUNY: State University of New York System)H-Index: 26
view all 3 authors...
Countless studies have recently purported to demonstrate effects of goal priming; however, it is difficult to muster unambiguous support for the claims of these studies because of the lack of clear criteria for determining whether goals, as opposed to alternative varieties of mental representations, have indeed been activated. Therefore, the authors offer theoretical guidelines that may help distinguish between semantic, procedural, and goal priming. Seven principles that are hallmarks of self-r...
516 CitationsSource
#1Carey K. Morewedge (Princeton University)H-Index: 27
#2Jesse Lee Preston (UWO: University of Western Ontario)H-Index: 15
Last. Daniel M. Wegner (Harvard University)H-Index: 85
view all 3 authors...
In this research, the authors found that people use speed of movement to infer the presence of mind and mental attributes such as intention, consciousness, thought, and intelligence in other persons, animals, and objects. Participants in 4 studies exhibited timescale bias—perceiving human and nonhuman targets (animals, robots, and animations) as more likely to possess mental states when those targets moved at speeds similar to the speed of natural human movement, compared with when targets perfo...
189 CitationsSource
#1Daniel L. Schacter (Harvard University)H-Index: 170
#2Donna Rose Addis (Harvard University)H-Index: 51
Episodic memory is widely conceived as a fundamentally constructive, rather than reproductive, process that is prone to various kinds of errors and illusions. With a view towards examining the functions served by a constructive episodic memory system, we consider recent neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies indicating that some types of memory distortions reflect the operation of adaptive processes. An important function of a constructive episodic memory is to allow individuals to simulate...
1,519 CitationsSource
#1Kathleen D. Vohs (UMN: University of Minnesota)H-Index: 91
#2Ronald J. Faber (UMN: University of Minnesota)H-Index: 43
This research investigated impulse buying as resulting from the depletion of a common-but limited-resource that governs self-control. In three investigations, participants' self-regulatory resources were depleted or not; later, impulsive spending responses were measured. Participants whose resources were depleted, relative to participants whose resources were not depleted, felt stronger urges to buy, were willing to spend more, and actually did spend more money in unanticipated buying situations...
1,166 CitationsSource
#1Ap Dijksterhuis (UvA: University of Amsterdam)H-Index: 65
#2Tanya L. Chartrand (Duke University)H-Index: 45
Last. Henk Aarts (UU: Utrecht University)H-Index: 72
view all 3 authors...
122 Citations
#1Emily Pronin (Princeton University)H-Index: 22
#2Daniel M. Wegner (Harvard University)H-Index: 85
Last. Sylvia Rodriguez (Princeton University)H-Index: 1
view all 4 authors...
These studies examined whether having thoughts related to an event before it occurs leads people to infer that they caused the event—even when such causation might otherwise seem magical. In Study 1, people perceived that they had harmed another person via a voodoo hex. These perceptions were more likely among those who had first been induced to harbor evil thoughts about their victim. In Study 2, spectators of a peer’s basketball-shooting performance were more likely to perceive that they had i...
291 CitationsSource
Cited By2