When Perspective Taking Increases Taking: Reactive Egoism in Social Interaction

Eugene Caruso, University of Chicago
Nicholas Epley, University of Chicago
Max Bazerman, Harvard University
People often egocentrically believe that they deserve more than their fair share of available resources. Although some previous research suggests that perspective taking may help reduce such conflict, the present research finds that considering the thoughts of others may actually increase selfish behavior. We demonstrate this effect in competitive contexts where considering others' perspectives activates egoistic theories of their likely behavior, leading people to behave more egoistically themselves. This "reactive egoism" is attenuated in cooperative contexts. We offer suggestions for when and how it is beneficial for people to look beyond their own perspective.
[ to cite ]:
Eugene Caruso, Nicholas Epley, and Max Bazerman (2008) ,"When Perspective Taking Increases Taking: Reactive Egoism in Social Interaction", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 242-245.