Effect of temporal perspective on subjective confidence.

Thomas Gilovich, Margaret Kerr, Victoria Husted Medvec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Four studies examined whether people tend to lose confidence in their prospects for success the closer they are to the "moment of truth." Study 1 found that students think they will do better on their midterm exams when asked on the 1st day of class than when asked on the day of the exam. Studies 2 and 4 replicated this finding under controlled conditions. Study 3 demonstrated that the same effect holds retrospectively: People are more confident that they would have performed well at a task long after the time to perform has passed. Data are presented indicating that these results stem from a tendency for people to feel more "accountable" for their assessments, and thus focus less on the causes of success and more on the causes of failure, as the time to perform approaches. Implications for the experience of regret are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)552-560
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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