Success Bias and Inflation Bias After Planning and Communicating Emotional Support

Colter D. Ray, Kory Floyd, Paul A. Mongeau, Ashley K. Randall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This study investigates the potential for cancer patients’ supporters to experience cognitive biases after communicating emotional support messages. A success bias was predicted, such that those who planned their messages would rate those messages as more effective in comparison with those who did not plan their messages (H1a-H1c). An inflation bias was also predicted, such that supporters would rate their messages as more effective than cancer patients who also rated the messages (H2a-H2c). One hundred laboratory participants were randomly assigned to a planning or distraction task before recording an emotional support message for a friend who had hypothetically been diagnosed with cancer. Laboratory participants rated their own messages in terms of relational assurances, problem-solving utility, and emotional awareness. Subsequently, cancer patients viewed and rated the laboratory participants’ messages on the same characteristics. Participants who planned their messages rated their messages significantly higher than those who did not plan their messages in terms of relational assurance and problem-solving utility but not emotional awareness. Irrespective of planning or distraction condition, participants also rated their messages significantly higher on all three dependent variables than did cancer patients. Supporters should be aware of the propensity to overrate their supportive abilities and guard against the assumption that planning messages results in more effective support messages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)972-976
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Cancer
  • Cognitive bias
  • Emotional support
  • Inflation bias
  • Message planning
  • Oncology
  • Success bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this