People commonly believe that they communicate better with close friends than with strangers. We propose, however, that closeness can lead people to overestimate how well they communicate, a phenomenon we term the closeness-communication bias. In one experiment, participants who followed direction of a friend were more likely to make egocentric errors — look at and reach for an object only they could see — than were those who followed direction of a stranger. In two additional experiments, participants who attempted to convey particular meanings with ambiguous phrases overestimated their success more when communicating with a friend or spouse than with strangers. We argue that people engage in active monitoring of strangers' divergent perspectives because they know they must, but that they "let down their guard" and rely more on their own perspective when they communicate with a friend.
Carter, Travis, Nicholas Epley, Boaz Keysar, Kenneth Savitsky, and Ashley Swanson. "The Closeness-Communication Bias: Increased Egocentrism among Friends Versus Strangers." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 47, no. 1 (January 2011): 269-273.
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