How Elicitation Procedure Shapes Beliefs About Others’ Affective Responses to Action and Inaction

Ioannis Evangelidis, Manissa P. Gunadi

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

Abstract

Humans have long pondered the distinction between action and inaction. Classic work in social sciences provides evidence that most people believe that others experience higher levels of affect when they obtain the same outcome through action as opposed to inaction. In this paper, we theorize that people’s attributions of affect to identical outcomes resulting from action versus inaction are largely constructive in nature, such that they heavily depend on the elicitation procedure. Seven preregistered studies demonstrate that most individuals cease to attribute greater affect to identical outcomes resulting from action as opposed to inaction when it is made possible—or salient—that they can state that action and inaction are associated with equal levels of affect. Consequently, the present studies suggest that researchers can reach different conclusions about participants’ general proclivity to attribute greater affect to identical outcomes resulting from action (vs. inaction) depending on how participants’ beliefs are measured.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Early online dateJun 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jun 2023

Keywords

  • action
  • affective judgments
  • inaction
  • inaction affect
  • omission bias

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