Considering the Situation: Why People are Better Social Psychologists than Self-psychologists

Emily Balcetis, David Dunning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Are people better self- or social psychologists when they predict prosocial behavior? Why might people be more or less accurate when predicting their own and others' actions? In two studies, participants considered variants of situations classically known to influence helping behavior (being alone vs. in a group, being in a good rather than bad mood). Participants made predictions about how they and their peers would act. Their predictions revealed that participants incorporated situational variations into social predictions, yet failed to do so when making self-predictions. These errors in self-prediction were not generated by response scale-type. This evidence suggests that people more appropriately use their knowledge of situational pressures when engaging in social rather than self-predictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalSelf and Identity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Above average effect
  • Accuracy
  • Motivation
  • Situation
  • Social predictions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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