Feeling similar to others and superior at the same time
Presenter: Joachim Krueger, Professor, Brown University
2121 Berkeley Way, Room 1104
As members of a social species, individual humans depend on the goodwill, cooperation, and love of others. At the same time, individuals who command respect and resources fare better than those who don’t. These two structural realities give rise to two conflicted psychological needs and behavioral repertoires. The first need is to be similar to others and to be included in cooperating groups. The second need is to do well individually, which entails the desire to do better than others – who, ironically, are those who stand to grant respect and group inclusion. A simple interpretation of this conflict is that the individual can maximize one need only at the expense of the other. Social projection, or the idea that others are similar to the self, is a perceptual heuristic contributing to the satisfaction of the need for successful cooperation. Self-enhancement, or the idea that one is superior to others, is a heuristic contributing to the satisfaction of the need for successful competition. In a set of studies, my collaborators and I show that the hydraulic model (meet one need while frustrating the other) is incorrect. Specifically, we show how social projection can mitigate a threat to the need for excellence. I will end with a discussion of motivated reasoning in light of statistical (Bayesian) benchmarks.
Joachim Krueger is professor of psychology at the Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Science, Brown University, and Adjunct Professor at the Instituto de Empresa, Madrid, Spain. He received a Research Prize from the Humboldt Foundation and serves as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board to the Max Planck Institute of Human Development in Berlin. A native of Germany, Krueger received his PhD from the University of Oregon in 1988 and has worked at Brown University since 1991, with intermittent visiting professor positions at several European institutions (U of Marburg, Heidelberg, Graz, Bergamo). His work addresses a variety of topics in judgment and decision-making as well as strategic behavior in interpersonal and group situations. The common underlying theme is ‘inductive reasoning in social context.’ His work on social projection, self-enhancement, and cooperation in ‘non-cooperative games’ has been published in journals such as Psychological Science, Psychological Bulletin, Psychological Review, and Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. Other contributions include work on the self-concept, statistical inference, and the nature of rationality. In his teaching and blogging, Krueger explores the psychology of happiness, creativity, and self-regulation.