Can we make accurate decisions for long-term partners or unfamiliar others?

Ziegler, Fenja V. and Tunney, Richard J. (2015) Can we make accurate decisions for long-term partners or unfamiliar others? In: EPS Meeting, 8 - 9 January 2015, London.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


Surrogate decisions often fail to reflect the stated preferences of the ward (Shalowitz et al., 2006), but the reasons for this are not well understood. One possibility is that people are unable to correctly estimate someone else’s subjective utilities and preferences. To investigate this we asked participants in a series of dyads to make a time trade-off for health items and a predicted time trade-off for the other member of the dyad and financial trade-offs for commodity items, giving a measure of how much people project their own preferences onto others and how accurate their estimates of other people’s preferences are. In Experiment 1 we tested 22 older couples (mean age = 59.09 years, sd = 8.72) who were in long-term relationships (average length= 31.68 years,  sd  =10.66). In Experiment 2 we tested 186 undergraduate students who were not in relationships in the same paradigm. Results revealed that participants were able to estimate their partners utility judgements independently of their own. We examine the factors that affect the accuracy of surrogate decision-making such as familiarity and perspective taking. We discuss the findings and their implications in the context of the Somatic Distortion Theory (Tunney & Ziegler, under review).

Keywords:surrogate decisions, utility estimation, trade offs, long term partners, U3A, empathy
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:19607
Deposited On:19 Nov 2015 19:21

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