Kouabenan, D.R. and Causse, P., Universit Pierre Mends France, Grenoble II, and Delhomme, P., : INRETS (Institut National de Recherche sur les Transports et leur Scurit), France
Research on comparative judgement showed that comparative optimism (CO) was influenced by several factors (target of comparison, perceived control, etc.). This paper presents two studies aimed at examining the effect of two of these factors ; namely the nature of the explanations given by the individuals to justify their judgements, and the procedure followed to measure comparative optimism : direct or indirect (self/others versus others/self). In experiment one, we recorded the comparative judgements for 10 negative events in connection with car driving (direct comparison). Only half of the participants were asked to give a justification for their comparative judgements. We observed that participants (N=60) exhibited more CO when they were asked to give a justification than when they were not. Co was all the higher when justifications were expressed in terms of protection behaviors. Experiment two aimed at examining if such results could be replicated when we vary the type of measures: optimism and comparative optimism in a situation of indirect comparison (self/others vs others/self). The results showed that risk judgements were more favourable for the self when participants (N=120) were asked to give justifications and when these justifications were expressed in terms of protective behaviors, except in the self/others condition. In conclusion, we stress that studies on CO must take into consideration not only the target of comparison, but also the actions undertaken by the individual to cope with risks.