ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 49 ›› Issue (3): 383-392.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2017.00383

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The perspective-distance effect hypothesis: Different perspectives and thinking modes lead to different decision-making performance in complex condition

CHEN Qing1,2; HE Quan3; CHEN Guangyao4; GUO Yuezhi2; ZHANG Hejing2; HE Xianyou2   

  1. (1 Beijing Key Laboratory of Applied Experimental Psychology, School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China) (2 School of Psychology, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China) (3 School of Economics & Management, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China) (4 Journalism and Communication College, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632, China)
  • Received:2015-07-02 Published:2017-03-25 Online:2017-03-25
  • Contact: HE Xianyou, E-mail:


The decision-making performance of self-other has been a hotspot in resent studies. However, previous studies had shown no obvious distinction between predicting others’ decision and deciding for others, and their theories had not yet been able to perfectly explain the mechanism as well. Integrating the Construal Level Theory and the Psychological Theory, the current study proposes the Perspective-Distance Effect Hypothesis to explain the mechanism of decision-making under different perspectives (for oneself, for prediction, & for others), and provides the empirical evidence. In order to separate the influence of perspective-selecting and psychological distance in decision-making process, and prove that perspective-selecting process does exert influence on decision-making, Experiment 1 was designed to perform under unconscious thinking mode in complex condition. On the contrary, Experiment 2 was conducted under conscious thinking mode in complex condition to prove that perspective selecting (for oneself, for prediction, & for others) and psychological distance simultaneously influence decision-making. Meanwhile, intimacy degree was an important factor that effected the process of perspective selecting. The current study employed the same paradigm as Dijksterhuis (2004), and Bos et al. (2010) used in the research of unconscious thinking. In Experiment 1, three or two participants took part in the experiment as a group. In the three-people group, participants were randomly assigned to the role of H (make decision for others), M (make decision for oneself) or P (predicting other’s decision) respectively. In the two-people group, one of them played role M (make decision for oneself) and the other randomly played either H (make decision for others) or P (predicting other’s decision). Participants were required to finish the intimacy degree scale at the beginning of the experiment. After that, the instructions were presented on the screen and participants were required to read them carefully. 48 pieces of information about 4 different lessons (12 for each) were then randomly presented one by one on the screen. Then, participants were required to do a distraction task for 4 minutes. By doing so, participants’ cognitive resources were occupied so that they would not be able to consider consciously. Then, the participants needed to assess the 4 lessons respectively on a scale from 1 to 20. After the assessment, participants made their decision according to their role. Participants in Experiment 2 were divided into either stranger group or intimate group according to their relationship in real life without finishing the intimacy degree scale. Instead of doing the distraction task as in experiment 1, participants spent 4 minutes consciously thinking about the information presented before. Then they finished the assessment and made decisions according to their role. The results of Experiment 1 show that under unconscious thinking mode in complex condition, the performance score of decision-making for prediction was significantly lower than that for oneself and for others, but there was no significant difference between the latter two. The result of Experiment 2 shows that, 1) under conscious thinking mode in complex condition, the performance score of decision-making for others was significantly higher than that for oneself or for prediction while there were no significant difference between the latter two in the stranger group; 2) In intimate group, there are no significant difference between the performance of decision-making for prediction and for others, but both were better than the performance of decision making for oneself. These results provided supportive evidence for the Perspective-Distance Effect Hypothesis. The findings of the study could also be useful for decision-making in real life. Compared to the performance of decision-making for oneself and for prediction, the performance of decision-making for others is more stable, and generally better. When predicting other’s decision, one tends to underestimate other’s performance under unconscious thinking mode in complex condition, while under conscious thinking mode, one tends to precisely estimate other’s performance when predicting a stranger’s decision and to overestimate other’s performance when predicting a friend’s decision.

Key words: decision-making performance, perspective, the condition of decision-making, thinking condition, the Perspective-Distance Effect Hypothesis