ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (7): 1439-1447.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.01439

• Conceptual Framework • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Inaccurate mind reading: The misprediction in conflicts and its mechanisms

LU Jingyi(), QIU Tian, CHEN Yuqi, FANG Qingwen, SHANG Xuesong   

  1. School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
  • Received:2021-11-20 Online:2022-07-15 Published:2022-05-17
  • Contact: LU Jingyi


Conflicts are antagonistic states where the actions taken by one party may cause direct and obvious harm to the other party. Therefore, conflicts may lead to interpersonal tensions. Rejections, raising different views, and competitions are instances that may induce conflicts. Effective conflict management can help to reduce negative impacts of conflicts and bring out potential positive impacts. However, the prevalence of misprediction hinders conflict management. Therefore, it is imperative to explore mispredictions in conflicts to facilitate effective conflict management. Extant researches have mainly shed light on mispredictions in non-conflicts from an information-driven perspective. In this line of researches, mispredictions are regarded as biases or even mistakes caused by cognitive constraints and the negative consequences of misprediction are mainly discussed. Although research on misprediction in non-conflicts is fruitful, misprediction in conflicts was largely ignored. In conflicts, people are more motivated to protect themselves and avoid interpersonal harm. To satisfy these motivations, people may strategically make mispredictions. Thus, mispredictions in conflicts may have motivational accounts. From this perspective, these mispredictions are not totally biases but sometimes adaptive because they help satisfy people’s needs.
In this project, we will investigate mispredictions in conflicts and their mechanisms and consequences. Specifically, the aim of this project is fourfold. First, we will contrast mispredictions in conflicts and non-conflicts to explore the uniqueness of mispredictions in conflicts. We propose the bias-amplification effect of conflicts: mispredictions will be larger in conflicts than in non-conflicts. For instance, the opinion responders who have raised a different view to opinion proposers will mispredict the reactions of opinion proposers more than the opinion responders who have raised a similar view. Second, on the basis of motivated reasoning theory, we will investigate the negativity-driving mechanism of the bias-amplification effect. Since people worry about negative consequences of conflicts, they will process the potential outcomes of conflicts during the cognitive process (including attention, perception, and thinking) toward the negative direction to prepare for the worst results. Third, we will examine the consequences of mispredictions in conflicts such as interpersonal withdrawals or inactions. Last, we will develop effective and feasible de-biasing interventions to eliminate these mispredictions in conflicts. The mispredictions should be attenuated if people are less motivated to protect themselves and avoid harm others.
This project will establish a new theoretical model of mispredictions in conflicts. This model, based on motivated-reasoning theory, reveals the bias-amplification effect of conflicts and extends the negative bias theory to interpersonal interactions. It also shifts from the cognitive constraint perspective to the motivational perspective and shows the impact of motivated reasoning on interpersonal interactions. In addition, this model contributes to the idea of ecological rationality and analyzes the adaptive functions of mispredictions.
In sum, our work combines theories of mispredictions, negative bias, and motivated reasoning to establish a comprehensive theoretical framework. This project helps to extend theories on behavioral decision making as well as guide the public and social governors to make accurate predictions about others, to improve conflict management, and to reach high-quality decisions.

Key words: misprediction, conflict, negative bias, motivated reasoning

CLC Number: