Self-evaluation versus public evaluation

Dec 18, 08 Self-evaluation versus public evaluation

Self-evaluation versus public evaluation
A review of:
Chambers, J. R., Epley, N., Savitsky, K., & Windschitl, P. D. (2008). Knowing too much: Using private knowledge to predict how one is viewed by others. Psychological Science, 19(6), 542-548.
by Abby B. Stevens

People often find it difficult to predict how others perceive them. Chambers, Epley, Savitsky, and Windschitl (2008) hypothesize that the knowledge that individuals have about themselves (e.g., specific faults they possess, how they behave in a given situation, etc) is often detrimental to their ability to predict how others perceive them.

Chambers, et al. (2008) performed multiple experiments to test this hypothesis. One experiment examined the extent of impact an individual’s private practice trial had on their self-evaluation of their public performance on a given task. This would additionally impact how that individual believed their performance was to be viewed by others. Results found that the individuals perceived their public performances to be better when they improved from the practice trial and that they perceived their performances more negatively when they did more poorly in the public performance. Individuals who performed better than expected anticipated higher ratings from observers in the public trial than those who performed worse than expected. Another experiment involved individuals who were under the impression that their performance on a task was significantly below average compared to peers. They were to predict how an evaluator would rate their performance. Individuals were judged either by their own individual observer or by an observer who also judged other members in their group. Surprisingly, individuals who were observed privately did not take into account that observers were unaware of other group members’ scores. Therefore, individuals who were observed both privately and publicly predicted observers would evaluate them negatively. In a final experiment, participants were asked to realistically imagine themselves performing some task, and it was hypothesized that this would produce an assimilation effect (individuals who imagined a positive performance would expect others to view the performance as positive, and those who imagined a negative performance expected others to view their performance in a negative light). This assimilation effect differs from the contrast effect observed in the experiments mentioned above. Results indicate that individuals who were expected to imagine themselves in a favorable fashion did, in fact, expect higher evaluations from others than did those who imagined themselves unfavorably. However, this was not reflected in observers’ evaluations; those expected to be evaluated positively overestimated the positive evaluation and those who expected to be evaluated negatively underestimated the evaluations they received.

Thus, this study has shown that past performances, performances of others, and imaginary performances affect how individuals evaluate themselves and in turn affect how they expect others to evaluate them. These findings may shed some light as to why people have difficulty accurately estimating how others will evaluate them.

Chambers, et al. (2008) suggest that people use this private-context information because it is encoded initially and is included in the self-evaluation from that point forward. Additionally, it is extremely difficult to disregard that initially encoded, negative information. Therefore, despite attempts to rid ones mind of that damaging information, individuals tend to continue to form opinions of themselves based on this.

It must be noted, as mentioned by Chambers, et al. (2008), that different individuals will evaluate situations in varying ways. Thus, a close friend or family member will often evaluate an individual more positively than an enemy would evaluate that individual in the same situation. Therefore, this must be kept in mind when considering the results of this study.

To cite this review, please use this reference:
Stevens, A. B. (2008). Self-evaluation versus public evaluation. Psychology Alert (2).