Loss framing increases self-serving mistakes (but does not alter attention)

Margarita Leib, Andrea Pittarello, Tom Gordon-Hecker, S. Shalvi, Marieke Roskes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In ambiguous settings, people are tempted to make self-serving mistakes. Here, we assess whether people make more self-serving mistakes to minimize losses compared with maximize gains. Results reveal that participants are twice as likely to make self-serving mistakes to reduce losses compared to increase gains. We further trace participants' eye movements to gain insight into the process underlying self-serving mistakes in losses and gains. We find that tempting, self-serving information does not capture more attention in loss, compared to gain framing. Rather, in loss framing, people are more likely to report the tempting, self-serving information they observed. The results imply that rather than diverting attention away from tempting information, reducing people's motivation to make self-serving mistakes, and framing goals as gains rather than losses are promising ways to decrease the occurrence of self-serving mistakes. In turn, this fosters environments with more accuracy and fewer motivated mistakes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103880
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • Ambiguous dice paradigm
  • Attention
  • Ethical decision making
  • Eye-tracking
  • Framing
  • Motivated mistakes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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