The Least Likely Act: Overweighting Atypical Past Behavior in Behavioral Predictions

Published on Jan 24, 2012in Social Psychological and Personality Science
· DOI :10.1177/1948550611434784
Carey K. Morewedge27
Estimated H-index: 27
(CMU: Carnegie Mellon University),
Alexander Todorov67
Estimated H-index: 67
(Princeton University)
When people predict the future behavior of a person, thinking of that target as an individual decreases the accuracy of their predictions. The present research examined one potential source of this bias, whether and why predictors overweight the atypical past behavior of individuals. The results suggest that predictors do indeed overweight the atypical past behavior of an individual. Atypical past behavior is more cognitively accessible than typical past behavior, which leads it to be overweighted in the impressions that serve as the basis for their predictions. Predictions for group members appear less susceptible to this bias, presumably because predictors are less likely to form a coherent impression of a group than an individual before making their predictions.
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