On the behavioral component of the third-person effect

Ye Sun, Lijiang Shen, Zhongdang Pan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


This article examines the behavioral hypothesis of the third-person effect. It argues that self-other disparities in perceived message effects lead to specific rectifying behaviors due to, presumably, a recognition of the problematic situation defined by perceived effects. Such behaviors would be aimed at restricting messages with negative influence, correcting messages with ambiguous influence, and amplifying messages with positive influence. The hypothesis was tested with models specified through "the diamond method." These models allow for estimating effects of perceptual disparity while controlling for overall perceived message effects. Results from Web-based survey data showed that the third-person perception (i.e., greater effect on others than on self) was a robust and significant predictor across all three messages. But the directions of such effects differed across messages with desirable or undesirable presumed influence. Theoretical and methodological implications for future research on the behavioral hypothesis of third-person effect are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-278
Number of pages22
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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