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Issue 1/2011

Okładka pierwszego numeru czasopisma Psychologia Społeczna

 

On the spurious inevitability of self-evaluation 
while facing moral dilemmas: the role of the accessibility 
of other-focused standards and cognitive overload

Anna Górecka, Anna Szuster

Abstract
The study investigated effects of dispositional (accessibility of other-focused standards) and situational (cognitive overload) factors on the third person effect. The effect consists in attributing less desirable attitudes to others compared to oneself. The effect was measured in the context of moral dilemmas. We expected that lower accessibility of other-focused standards and a cognitive overload will intensify the third person effect. The interactive effect of both factors was also tested. Participants (N=86 ) were students of Warsaw universities. The results showed that situational factors which lead to cognitive overload increased the third person effect and thus helped maintain positive self-evaluation. It was also shown that higher accessibility of other-focused standards reduced the intensity of the self-esteem maintenance mechanisms. The interactive effect of dispositional and situational factors was also obtained: cognitive overload increased intensity of the third person effect only in subjects with high accessibility of other-focused standards but not in those with low accessibility. The latter finding may suggest that people with higher accessibility of other-focused standards habitually tend to employ more sophisticated criteria of evaluation.

Key words: accessibility of other-focused standards, the third person effect, self-evaluation, moral dilemmas, cognitive overload

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