The egocentric bias: Seeing oneself as cause and target of others' behavior


Requests for reprints should be sent to Miron Zuckerman, Department of Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, N.Y. 14627


The egocentric bias—the tendency to see oneself as both cause and target of another person's behavior—was examined in the context of a small group interaction. Pairs of subjects plus a confederate conducted a short discussion, their goal being to achieve consensus on a specific topic. The discussion was interrupted by the experimenter when the confederate summarized his/her opinion. It was found that subjects were more likely to see themselves as a cause as well as a target of the confederate's last statement compared to the way they were seen by other group members. Subjects were also more likely to exaggerate the amount of attention they received from the confederate. The overall egocentric bias scores were correlated with subjects' level of self-esteem. Cognitive and motivational processes that may account for this bias were discussed.