"What, me worry?": Arousal, misattribution, and the effect of temporal distance on confidence

Kenneth Savitsky, Victoria Husted Medvec, Ann E. Charlton, Thomas Gilovich*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Scopus citations

Abstract

Confidence has been found to vary with temporal proximity to an upcoming task: People's confidence that they will do well tends to diminish as the "moment of truth" draws near. We propose that this phenomenon stems in part from individuals using their pretask arousal as a cue to their level of confidence. Arousal that is part and parcel of "gearing up" to perform a task may be misattributed to diminished confidence. Consistent with this reasoning, participants in two experiments who were encouraged to misattribute their arousal to a neutral source ("subliminal noise") expressed greater confidence in their ability than did participants not able to do so - a result that would not be obtained if arousal was simply a reflection, and not a cause, of diminished confidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-536
Number of pages8
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Volume24
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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