Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Better to overestimate than to underestimate others’ feelings: Asymmetric cost of errors in affective perspective-taking

Better to overestimate than to underestimate others’ feelings: Asymmetric cost of errors in affective perspective-taking. Nadav Klein. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Volume 151, March 2019, Pages 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.obhdp.2018.12.009

Highlights
•    Errors in perspective taking are common but little is known about their consequences.
•    Is it worse to overestimate or underestimate the intensity others' emotions?
•    Seven experiments find that underestimating emotions is costlier than overestimating.
•    This occurs because underestimation is thought to indicatelower effort and empathy.
•    Stereotypical emotions and socially undesirable emotions moderate these results.

Abstract: Accurately assessing other people’s perspective in general, and other people’s emotional responses in particular, is essential for successful social interaction. However, substantial research finds that accurate perspective taking is the exception rather than the norm. Although errors in perspective taking are common, little is known about their consequences. Is it worse to overestimate or to underestimate other people’s emotional responses? Seven experiments find that underestimating the intensity of other people's emotional responses leads to more negative evaluations than overestimating others’ emotions (Experiments 1–5). These results replicate across emotional valence and across observers and targets and occur because people believe that underestimation is indicative of lower effort and empathy in trying to understand the target. Additional experiments identify moderators of these effects, including stereotypical emotions and socially undesirable emotions (Experiments 6–7). The cost of errors in affective perspective taking is asymmetric, leading to important implications for social coordination.