The least likely act: Overweighting atypical past behavior in behavioral predictions

Carey K. Morewedge, Alexander Todorov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


When people predict the future behavior of a person, thinking of that target as an individual decreases the accuracy of their predictions. The present research examined one potential source of this bias, whether and why predictors overweight the atypical past behavior of individuals. The results suggest that predictors do indeed overweight the atypical past behavior of an individual. Atypical past behavior is more cognitively accessible than typical past behavior, which leads it to be overweighted in the impressions that serve as the basis for their predictions. Predictions for group members appear less susceptible to this bias, presumably because predictors are less likely to form a coherent impression of a group than an individual before making their predictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)760-766
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


  • judgment and decision making
  • memory
  • perspective taking
  • social cognition
  • social judgment

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