The spotlight effect in social judgment: An egocentric bias in estimates of the salience of one's own actions and appearance

Thomas Gilovich*, Victoria Husted Medvec, Kenneth Savitsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

267 Scopus citations

Abstract

This research provides evidence that people overestimate the extent to which their actions and appearance are noted by others, a phenomenon dubbed the spotlight effect. In Studies 1 and 2, participants who were asked to don a T-shirt depicting either a flattering or potentially embarrassing image overestimated the number of observers who would be able to recall what was pictured on the shirt. In Study 3, participants in a group discussion overestimated how prominent their positive and negative utterances were to their fellow discussants. Studies 4 and 5 provide evidence supporting an anchoring-and-adjustment interpretation of the spotlight effect. In particular, people appear to anchor on their own rich phenomenological experience and then adjust - insufficiently - to take into account the perspective of others. The discussion focuses on the manifestations and implications of the spotlight effect across a host of everyday social phenomena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-222
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume78
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The spotlight effect in social judgment: An egocentric bias in estimates of the salience of one's own actions and appearance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this