Third-person perception and optimistic bias among urban minority at-risk youth

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Recent third-person perception articles suggest that optimistic bias is the mechanism underlying the perceptual bias but fail to empirically test the assumption. A small inverse relationship between third-person perception and optimistic bias was found among the youth surveyed: 51% of the students exhibited third-person perceptions, believing they were less influenced by televised safer-sex messages than were their peers. These students were less optimistic about their chances of becoming HIV infected than their peers; 34% exhibited first-person perceptions, believing they were more influenced by the messages than were peers, and were more optimistic than were their peers concerning HIV infection. Most students (89%) exhibited some degree of optimistic bias regarding their chances of avoiding HIV infection in the future. The findings effectively link the two literatures within a sample neglected by previous studies: urban, minority, at-risk youth. The study advances knowledge of third-person perceptions by suggesting underlying social-psychological mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-81
Number of pages31
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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