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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 1615

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

Douglas KM, Sutton RM.
Right about others, wrong about ourselves? Actual and perceived self-other differences in resistance to persuasion
Br J Soc Psychol 2004 Dec; 43:(Pt 4):585-603


The third-person effect (TPE) is the tendency for people to perceive the media as more influential on others than on themselves. This study introduced a new methodological paradigm for measuring the TPE and examined whether the effect stems from an overestimation of the persuasibility of others, an underestimation of the persuasibility of the self, both, or neither.

In three studies, we compared ratings of:

(a) current self attitudes (both baseline and post-persuasion),

(b) current others’ attitudes (both baseline and post-persuasion),

© retrospective self attitudes, and (

d) retrospective others’ attitudes.

We also measured traditional third-person perception ratings of perceived influence. Rather than overestimating others’ attitude change, we found evidence that people underestimated the extent to which their own attitudes had, or would have, changed.

Adult Attitude* Female Firearms/legislation & jurisprudence* Humans Male New Zealand Personal Construct Theory* Persuasive Communication* Prospective Studies Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't Retrospective Studies Self Concept* Social Conformity* Students/psychology


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Email a Friend influence multinational corporations effectively, the efforts of governments will have to be complemented by others, notably the many voluntary organisations that have shown they can effectively represent society’s public-health interests…
A small group known as Healthy Skepticism; formerly the Medical Lobby for Appropriate Marketing) has consistently and insistently drawn the attention of producers to promotional malpractice, calling for (and often securing) correction. These organisations [Healthy Skepticism, Médecins Sans Frontières and Health Action International] are small, but they are capable; they bear malice towards no one, and they are inscrutably honest. If industry is indeed persuaded to face up to its social responsibilities in the coming years it may well be because of these associations and others like them.
- Dukes MN. Accountability of the pharmaceutical industry. Lancet. 2002 Nov 23; 360(9346)1682-4.