Social Distance Reduces the Biases of Overweighting Small Probabilities and Underweighting Large Probabilities

Qingzhou Sun, Jingyi Lu*, Huanren Zhang, Yongfang Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

People often exhibit biases in probability weighting such as overweighting small probabilities and underweighting large probabilities. Our research examines whether increased social distance would reduce such biases. Participants completed valuation and choice tasks of probabilistic lotteries under conditions with different social distances. The results showed that increased social distance reduced these biases in both hypothetical (Studies 1 and 2) and incentivized (Study 3) settings. This reduction was accompanied by a decrease in emotional intensity and an increase in the attention to probability in the decision-making process (Study 4). Moreover, the bias-buffering effect of social distance was stronger in the gain domain than in the loss domain (Studies 1–4). These results suggest that increasing the social distance from the beneficiaries of the decisions can reduce biases in probability weighting and shed light on the relationship between social distance and the emotional-cognitive process in decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
ISSN0146-1672
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17. Dec 2020

Keywords

  • emotional intensity
  • judgment and decision-making
  • probability neglect
  • probability weighting bias
  • social distance

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