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When Perspective Taking Increases Taking: Reactive Egoism in Social Interaction

65 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2005  

Nicholas Epley

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Eugene M. Caruso

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Max H. Bazerman

Harvard Business School - Negotiations, Organizations and Markets Unit

Date Written: August 18, 2005

Abstract

Group members often reason egocentrically, believing that they deserve more than their fair share of group resources. Leading people to consider others members' perspectives can reduce these egocentric (self-centered) judgments, such that people claim that it is fair for them to take less, but it actually increases egoistic (selfish) behavior, such that people actually take more of available resources. Four experiments demonstrate this pattern in competitive contexts where considering others' perspectives activates egoistic theories of their likely behavior, leading people to counter by behaving more egoistically themselves. This reactive egoism is attenuated in cooperative contexts. Discussion focuses on the implications of reactive egoism in social interaction, and on strategies for alleviating its potentially deleterious effects.

Keywords: Reactive Egoism, Egocentrism, Perspective Taking, Negotiation, Conflict

Suggested Citation

Epley, Nicholas and Caruso, Eugene M. and Bazerman, Max H., When Perspective Taking Increases Taking: Reactive Egoism in Social Interaction (August 18, 2005). Harvard NOM Working Paper No. 06-02. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=785989 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.785989

Nicholas Epley (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Eugene M. Caruso

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Max H. Bazerman

Harvard Business School - Negotiations, Organizations and Markets Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6429 (Phone)
617-496-4191 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.people.hbs.edu/mbazerman

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