The third-person perception hypothesis posits that people believe others are more influenced by media messages than they are. The existing literature consistently documents that individuals make self vs. other distinctions when assessing media effects, but not how such distinctions are made. The current study sought to document the self/ other distinction in third-person perception and to assess differences in how individuals separate their own personal risk from that of others. Findings of a survey of 180 urban minority youth confirm the presence of third-person perception and significant self/other distinctions in media effects. A clear split between cognitive and social predictors emerged when assessing differences in self/other distinctions. Participants relied on cognitive factors when assessing their own risk, while relying more heavily on self-esteem when assessing the relative risk of others. Liking and trust of the media was the only shared correlate of self/other distinctions in third-person perception.
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