The Happiness Hypothesis: Unconscious Overclaiming

Do you ever feel like you’re the ONLY ONE who empties the dishwasher, or brings the trash out? Maybe because we’ve put so much emphasis on those things being “important things to do” that we lack doing what our partner, roommate, or parents consider to be important. These stats show that they probably feel the same way.

Of course, I thought I did more than my share. Although I was aware of every little thing I did for the group, I was aware of only a portion of everyone else’s contributions… I picked the things I cared about- such as keeping the refrigerator clean- and then gave myself an A-plus in that category. As with other kinds of social comparison, ambiguity allows us to set up the comparison in ways that favor ourselves, and then to seek evidence that shows we are excellent operators. Studies of such “unconscious overclaiming” show that when husbands and wives estimate the percentage of housework each does, their estimates total more than 120 percent. When MBA students in a work group make estimates of their contributions to the team, the estimates total 139 percent.” -Jonathan Haidt (pg.69)

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The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom


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