Exploring the Factors That Encourage the Illusions of Control: The Case of Preventive Illusions

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Abstract

Most previous research on illusions of control focused on generative scenarios, in which participants’ actions aim to produce a desired outcome. By contrast, the illusions that may appear in preventive scenarios, in which actions aim to prevent an undesired outcome before it occurs, are less known. In this experiment, we studied two variables that modulate generative illusions of control, the probability with which the action takes place, P(A), and the probability of the outcome, P(O), in two different scenarios: generative and preventive. We found that P(O) affects the illusion in symmetrical, opposite directions in each scenario, while P(A) is positively related to the magnitude of the illusion. Our conclusion is that, in what concerns the illusions of control, the occurrence of a desired outcome is equivalent to the nonoccurrence of an undesired outcome, which explains why the P(O) effect is reversed depending on the scenario.

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