My research examines people’s understanding of the impact they have on others. Much of my work starts with the idea that we often know exactly when and how much we have been affected by other people—when we get a terse email from a supervisor, a social invitation from a new acquaintance, or an argument with a close partner. But it is much harder, though equally important, to know how our actions, behavior, and even our mere presence impact others. I study people’s actual and perceived impact on others, as well as the psychological biases that often prevent people from making accurate judgments.
When people try to estimate their impact on others, two key questions arise. The first concerns the quantity of a person’s social impact—do people know how much of a salient stimulus they are to others? The second concerns the quality of a person’s social impact—do people know how positive or negative of a stimulus they are to others? Although social scientists have long shown that people have an overly positive view of themselves and their abilities, I often find that people underestimate the amount and the quality of the impact they have on others.
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