Moral self-perception predicts unrealistic optimism towards COVID-19 infection



This is the data package of Chapter 3 of How Hwee Ong's dissertation. Unrealistic optimism refers to the tendency to believe that one’s future will be more favorable than warranted. Against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we conducted two studies to examined if the extent of unrealistic optimism towards COVID-19 infection is associated with (i) how moral they perceive themselves to be, and (ii) how much suffering they perceived they had experienced. While perceived suffering was not associated with the extent of unrealistic optimism, we found that people who perceived themselves to be more moral exhibited greater levels of unrealistic optimism. This finding furthers our understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of unrealistic optimism by indicating that unrealistic optimism may be at least in part due to a general expectation that moral behavior will be rewarded. It further suggests that a function of such a ‘good behavior-good outcome’ association could be to help cope with threats.
Date made available30 Aug 2022

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