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Abstract

Two studies were conducted to determine the conditions under which the third person effect (Davison, 1983) operates. It was hypothesized that the effect would be accentuated as target groups of others became more remote from the self. A second objective was to determine whether the effect operates in the absence of overtly persuasive intent in the media. Television programmes concerned with moral themes were employed as stimuli. The results further support Davison's claim that overestimation of media effects is greater when people imagine the responses of others whom they do not know than those of familar individuals. The results also indicate that the third person effect does operate in the absence of perceived persuasive intent, but is accentuated when bias is perceived by viewers.