The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

The SPOT effect: People spontaneously prefer their own theories

Record type: Article

People often exhibit confirmation bias: They process information bearing on the truth of their theories in a way that facilitates their continuing to regard those theories as true. Here, we tested whether confirmation bias would emerge even under the most minimal of conditions. Specifically, we tested whether drawing a nominal link between the self and a theory would suffice to bias people towards regarding that theory as true. If, all else equal, people regard the self as good (i.e., engage in self-enhancement), and good theories are true (in accord with their intended function), then people should regard their own theories as true; otherwise put, they should manifest a spontaneous preference for their own theories (i.e., a SPOT effect). In three experiments, participants were introduced to a theory about which of two imaginary alien species preyed upon the other. Participants then considered in turn several items of evidence bearing on the theory and each time evaluated the likelihood that the theory was true versus false. As hypothesized, participants regarded the theory as more likely to be true when it was arbitrarily ascribed to them as opposed to an “Alex” (Experiment 1) or to no one (Experiment 2). We also found that the SPOT effect failed to converge with four different indices of self-enhancement (Experiment 3), suggesting that it may be distinctive in character.

PDF publications pdf's_In press 2016_Gregg_Mahadevan_Sedikides_2016_QJEP.pdf - Accepted Manuscript
Download (1MB)


Gregg, Aiden P., Mahadevan, Nikhila and Sedikides, Constantine (2016) The SPOT effect: People spontaneously prefer their own theories The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology: Section B, 70, pp. 996-1010. (doi:10.1080/17470218.2015.1099162).

More information

Accepted/In Press date: 14 September 2015
e-pub ahead of print date: 2 February 2016


Local EPrints ID: 392905
PURE UUID: 0ee8d29a-b567-45ca-a81b-c398da336c8a

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 19 Apr 2016 08:45
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 19:13

Export record


Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.