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Third-Person Effect

Coined by W. Phillips Davison in 1983, the term thirdperson effect refers to people's tendency to perceive others (the “third” person) as more susceptible to media effects than themselves. This tendency is assumed to lead individuals to take action, for example, to support the regulation of media content that may have undesirable effects. The third-person effect thus consists of a perceptual component (usually called third-person perception) and a behavioral component. The third-person perception is typically seen as a self–other perceptual bias: People are prone to assume that something undesirable—for example, being influenced by media—applies to others rather than to themselves. This assumption may be right at the individual level. At the aggregate level, however, the assumption is logically inconsistent: The majority of people claim that ...

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