The third-person perception as social judgment : An exploration of social distance and uncertainty in perceived effects of political attack ads

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Hye-Jin Paek
  • Zhongdang Pan
  • Ye Sun
  • Joseph Abisaid
  • Debra Houden


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-170
Journal / PublicationCommunication Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes


Although numerous studies have shown the third-person perception, explanation of why and how self-other perceptual gaps occur remains underdeveloped. Conceiving message-effect perceptions as a form of social judgment under varying degrees of uncertainty, this study attempts to demonstrate the responsiveness of the perceptual gap to information on message effectiveness and to explicate the uncertainty-reduction interpretation of social distance corollary. Analyzing data from a survey and an experiment, this study finds that credible information on overall message ineffectiveness leads to reductions in estimated effects of the messages on both self and various others and in self-other perceptual gaps when the other is most distant from self. Consistent with the uncertainty reduction argument, the self-other perceptual gaps are related to perceived similarity of the others and vary in response to labels of the others that cue different degrees of similarity with self. Directions for future studies and practical implications are discussed. © 2005 Sage Publications.

Research Area(s)

  • Effects, Judgment, Perceptual bias, Social distance, Third-person effect, Uncertainty reduction

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