Noticing Future Me: Reducing Egocentrism Through Mental Imagery

C. Neil Macrae* (Corresponding Author), Jason P. Mitchell, Diana L. McNamara, Marius Golubickis, Konstantina Andreou, Sarah Møller, Karin Peytcheva, Johanna Katariina Falben, Brittany M. Christian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


People drastically overestimate how often others attend to them or notice their unusual features, a phenomenon termed the spotlight effect. Despite the prevalence of this egocentric bias, little is known about how to reduce the tendency to see oneself as the object of others’ attention. Here, we tested the hypothesis that a basic property of mental imagery—the visual perspective from which an event is viewed—may alleviate a future-oriented variant of the spotlight effect. The results of three experiments supported this prediction. Experiment 1 revealed a reduction in egocentric spotlighting when participants imagined an event in the far compared with near future. Experiments 2 and 3 demonstrated reduced spotlighting and feelings of embarrassment when participants viewed an impending event from a third-person (vs. first-person) vantage point. Simple changes in one’s visual perspective may be sufficient to diminish the illusion of personal salience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)855-863
Number of pages9
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number7
Early online date4 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


  • egocentrism
  • mental imagery
  • prospection
  • self
  • visual perspective
  • spotlight effect


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