When thinking you are better leads to feeling worse: Self-other asymmetries in prosocial behavior and increased anxiety during the Covid-19 pandemic [article]

Chelsea Helion, Virginia Ulichney, David V Smith, Johanna Jarcho
2021 medRxiv   pre-print
Thinking one is better than peers is generally associated with positive psychological outcomes like increased self-esteem and resilience. However, this tendency may be problematic in the context of collective action problems, wherein individuals are reliant on others' prosocial behaviors to achieve larger goals. We examined this question in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, and recruited participants (n = 1022) from a university community in Spring 2020. We found evidence for a self-peer
more » ... mmetry, such that participants reported that they were doing more to stop the spread of the disease and were more prosocially motivated than peers. Actual peer reports indicated that these were overestimations. This self-enhancement tendency comes with a cost: the perceived self-peer asymmetry mediated the relationship between Covid-specific worry and general anxiety during the early lockdown period. This indicates that while believing one is doing more than others may be maladaptive in collective action problems.
doi:10.1101/2021.02.26.21252547 fatcat:yvltn6dqyrdt3k6yo52odygbaq