It's not always about me: The effects of prior beliefs and stimulus prevalence on self-other prioritisation

Johanna K Falbén* (Corresponding Author), Marius Golubickis, Darja Wischerath, Dimitra Tsamadi, Linn M Persson, Siobhan Caughey, Saga L Svensson, C Neil Macrae

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Although self-relevance is widely acknowledged to enhance stimulus processing, the exclusivity of this effect remains open to question. In particular, in commonly adopted experimental paradigms, the prioritisation of self-relevant (vs. other-relevant) material may reflect the operation of a task-specific strategy rather than an obligatory facet of social-cognitive functioning. By changing basic aspects of the decisional context, it may therefore be possible to generate stimulus-prioritisation effects for targets other than the self. Based on the demonstration that ownership facilitates object categorisation (i.e., self-ownership effect), here we showed that stimulus prioritisation is sensitive to prior expectations about the prevalence of forthcoming objects (owned-by-self vs. owned-by-friend) and whether these beliefs are supported during the task. Under conditions of stimulus uncertainty (i.e., no prior beliefs), replicating previous research, objects were classified more rapidly when owned-by-self compared with owned-by-friend (Experiment 1). When, however, the frequency of stimulus presentation either confirmed (Experiment 2) or disconfirmed (Experiment 3) prior expectations, stimulus prioritisation was observed for the most prevalent objects regardless of their owner. A hierarchical drift diffusion model (HDDM) analysis further revealed that decisional bias was underpinned by differences in the evidential requirements of response generation. These findings underscore the flexibility of ownership effects (i.e., stimulus prioritisation) during object processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1466-1480
Number of pages15
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number9
Early online date15 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020


  • Self-prioritisation;
  • prior beliefs
  • wnership
  • stimulus prevalence
  • response bias
  • decision-making
  • Self-prioritisation
  • ownership


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