Optimism Bias When Evaluating a Prosocial Initiative*
optimism, bias, prosocial initiative, nonprofit, business, hypothetical initiative
Objective. This study examines how people evaluate prosocial initiatives—in particular, whether they exhibit optimism bias when asked to consider the outcomes of a hypothetical initiative that is described to take place in nonprofit, business, or government sector. It also assesses the conditions under which optimism bias is malleable. Methods. We use a survey with an experimental component to compare subjects' evaluations of a hypothetical initiative across a set of priming (positive prime, negative prime, no prime) and sector (nonprofit, government, business, social business) conditions. Results. We find evidence that optimism bias is widespread, regardless of the sector in question. Subjects are only inclined to alter their assessments when provided with new information that is positive (in contrast to new information that is negative). Conclusion. The findings offer qualified support for the blurring hypothesis, suggesting that sector may be losing its status as a defining characteristic of the organizational landscape.
Original Publication Citation
Child, C. and Witesman, E.M. (2019), Optimism and Bias When Evaluating a Prosocial Initiative*. Social Science Quarterly, 100: 666-677.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Child, Curtis and Witesman, Eva M., "Optimism Bias When Evaluating a Prosocial Initiative*" (2019). Faculty Publications. 3877.
Social Science Quarterly
Family, Home, and Social Sciences
Southwestern Social Science Association
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