Perish the Forethought: Premeditation Engenders Misperceptions of Personal Control

19 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2014

See all articles by Carey Morewedge

Carey Morewedge

Boston University, Questrom School of Business

Kurt Gray

Independent

Daniel Wegner

Independent

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

People are normally encouraged to engage in premeditation — to think about the potential consequences of their behavior before acting. Indeed, planning, considering, and studying can be important precursors to decision-making, and often seem essential for effective action. This view of premeditation is shared by most humans, a kind of universal ideal, and it carries an additional interesting implication: Even the hint that premeditation occurred can serve as a potent cue indicating voluntary action, both to actors and observers. In legal and moral contexts, for example, actors are seen as especially culpable for the consequences of their actions if those consequences were premeditated, whether or not the premeditation influenced the decision. In this chapter, we review evidence indicating that even irrelevant premeditation can lead people to believe that an action’s consequences were under personal control. We present research exploring how various forms of premeditation — including foresight, effortful forethought, wishful thinking, and the consideration of multiple possible outcomes of action — may lead actors to prefer and to feel responsible for action outcomes even when this premeditation has no causal relation to the outcomes.

Suggested Citation

Morewedge, Carey and Gray, Kurt and Wegner, Daniel, Perish the Forethought: Premeditation Engenders Misperceptions of Personal Control (2010). Boston U. School of Management Research Paper No. 2518577. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2518577 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2518577

Carey Morewedge (Contact Author)

Boston University, Questrom School of Business ( email )

595 Commonwealth Ave
614, Marketing Department
Boston, MA 02215
United States

HOME PAGE: http://careymorewedge.com

Kurt Gray

Independent

No Address Available

Daniel Wegner

Independent

No Address Available

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