Anchoring and adjustment during social inferences

Diana I. Tamir, Jason P. Mitchell
2013 Journal of experimental psychology. General  
Simulation theories of social cognition suggest that people use their own mental states to understand those of others-particularly similar others. However, perceivers cannot rely solely on self-knowledge to understand another person; they must also correct for differences between the self and others. Here we investigated serial adjustment as a mechanism for correction from self-knowledge anchors during social inferences. In 3 studies, participants judged the attitudes of a similar or dissimilar
more » ... person and reported their own attitudes. For each item, we calculated the discrepancy between responses for the self and other. The adjustment process unfolds serially, so to the extent that individuals indeed anchor on selfknowledge and then adjust away, trials with a large amount of self-other discrepancy should be associated with longer response times, whereas small self-other discrepancy should correspond to shorter response times. Analyses consistently revealed this positive linear relationship between reaction time and self-other discrepancy, evidence of anchoring-and-adjustment, but only during judgments of similar targets. These results suggest that perceivers mentalize about similar others using the cognitive process of anchoring-and-adjustment.
doi:10.1037/a0028232 pmid:22506753 fatcat:mdipfuzn3rdmpmvu3qwie3hbuy