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Diagnosticity Neglect


Psychological Distance Reduces Diagnosticity Neglect In Social Comparison

            Social comparisons differ in their diagnosticity—that is, in the extent to which their outcomes are attributable to sources internal versus external to the self. While logic suggests that people should give more credence to diagnostic than to nondiagnostic comparisons, research shows that people often overlook comparison diagnosticity, leading them to drawing inaccurate conclusions about themselves—a phenomenon known as diagnosticity neglect. Here I examine a process that may reduce diagnosticity neglect: psychological distance. Because psychological distance—and the mental abstraction it engenders—helps people to organize information hierarchically, it may allow people to better distinguish between diagnostic and nondiagnostic information. Four experiments, using two distinct tasks (a bean bag throwing game and an anagrams quiz) and two forms of psychological distance (social and hypothetical), confirm these predictions; a preregistered fifth experiment demonstrates their real-world consequences. Overall, this research highlights the power of psychological distance to reduce diagnosticity neglect.

Citation: Yudkin, D. A. (Under Review). Stepping back to see what matters: Psychological distance reduces diagnosticity neglect in social comparison