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Judgment of Coincidences: Mine versus Yours

Ruma Falk
The American Journal of Psychology
Vol. 102, No. 4 (Winter, 1989), pp. 477-493
DOI: 10.2307/1423303
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1423303
Page Count: 17
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Judgment of Coincidences: Mine versus Yours
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Abstract

Previous research indicated that subjects are not very surprised when reading coincidence stories, apparently because they regard the coincidence as one of many events that could have happened. This was true with respect to coincidences written by somebody else. However, there were indications that subjects found their own coincidences more surprising than those of others. The present study examines that egocentric bias and explores it further. In Experiment 1, a rotating design was employed in which the same story served, in turn, as self- and as other-coincidence, thereby controlling for the story's objective surprisingness. In Experiment 2, the coincidences occurred "spontaneously" in the course of the experiment, thus controlling for self-selection of subjectively surprising stories. Self-coincidences were judged more surprising than those of others in both experiments. The results suggest that the more personally meaningful the self-coincidence, the more surprising it is.

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