Negativity Bias in the Perception of External Agency

Carey Morewedge, Princeton University, USA
People seem apt to believe that machines have a “mind of their own” when they malfunction and that referees were responsible for their team’s loss. Yet, when machines work well or their team is winning, the state of affairs is seldom attributed to the intentions of an external agent. This discrepancy reflects a general asymmetry in the way people ascribe intentional agency. Four experiments, employing ultimatum games and gambles, demonstrate that negative outcomes more often prompt one to infer the presence and influence of external intentional agents than do neutral and positive outcomes.
[ to cite ]:
Carey Morewedge (2007) ,"Negativity Bias in the Perception of External Agency", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 34, eds. Gavan Fitzsimons and Vicki Morwitz, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 534-537.