The spotlight effect revisited: Overestimating the manifest variability of our actions and appearance

Thomas Gilovich*, Justin Kruger, Victoria Husted Medvec

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

Three studies examined people's estimates of the perceived variability of their appearance and behavior in the eyes of others. Whether assessing the manifest variability of their physical appearance (Studies 1a, 1b, and 1c), their athletic accomplishments (Study 2), or their performance on a popular videogame (Study 3), participants consistently overestimated the extent to which their ups and downs would be noted by observers. The results of Study 3 suggest that this bias stems in part from a failure to appreciate the extent to which observers are preoccupied with managing their own actions. Discussion focuses on how this corollary of the "spotlight effect" can contribute to social anxiety and gnawing regrets of inaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-99
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume38
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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