Joshua Alexander, Assistant Professor, Siena College


Joshua Alexander, Assistant Professor, Siena College

Sage 4101

April 24, 2013 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM


Abstract: Jennifer Nagel has recently proposed a fascinating account of the decreased tendency to attribute knowledge in conversational contexts in which unrealized possibilities of error have been mentioned. Her account appeals to epistemic egocentrism, or what is sometimes called the "curse of knowledge", an egocentric bias to attribute our own mental states to other people. My aim is to investigate the empirical merits of Nagel's hypothesis about the psychology involved in knowledge attribution.

I will present four studies showing that our willingness to attribute knowledge is sensitive to what possibilities have been made salient in a given conversational context, that this sensitivity can be explained in terms of epistemic egocentrism, and that increased motivation doesn't seem to drive down our tendency to mistakenly project our own mental states onto others. I all end by previewing additional studies involving individual differences, social distance, and a specific kind of interventional debasing strategy.

Salience and Epistemic Egocentrism:  An Empirical Study

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