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Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1965, Vol. 2, No. 4, 531-539 EFFECT OF STIMULUS INCONSISTENCY AND DISCOUNTING INSTRUCTIONS IN...

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Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1965, Vol. 2, No. 4, 531-539 EFFECT OF STIMULUS INCONSISTENCY AND DIS- COUNTING INSTRUCTIONS IN PERSONALITY IMPRESSION FORMATION i NORMAN H. ANDERSON University af California, San Tiie.go ANN JACOBSON University of California, Los Angeles Ss judged the likableness of persons described by sets of 3 adjectives under 1 of 4 instruction conditions: 1—each adjective is equally important, 2—the adjectives may differ in validity, 3 and 4- —1 adjective does not apply. The adjective sets embodied affective and antonymic inconsistency. The results were interpreted as indicating that the impression response was an average of the scale values of the adjectives. For Condition 1, a simple average model worked reasonably well though not perfectly. Data for the remaining conditions were interpreted in terms of a weighted average formulation in which incon- sistent adjectives received a decreased weight. If a subject gives his impression of a per- son described by a set of personality-trait adjectives, one might expect that the adjec- tives will interact in some way. Thus, the contribution of one adjective to the overall impression might be thought to depend upon the other adjectives of the set (Asch, 1946). A direct test of this idea gave it little sup- port (Anderson, 1962). In fact, (he data were reasonably well accounted for by a simple average model: the subject acted as though each adjective had a definite value, inde- pendent of context, and gave as his response to any set the arithmetic mean of the values of the adjectives. The present work takes up two limitations of the previous report. In the first place, the adjective sets were previously constructed by random choice. This procedure avoids possi- ble bias in set construction, but it may not be sensitive to interaction present in only a rela- tively small proportion of the sets. In the second place, the instructions previously em- ployed indicated that all adjectives of a set should be considered as having equal impor- tance. With more naturalistic instructions, the simple average model might not hold. The present experiment was designed to explore these two questions. Sets were chosen in which strong interactions could be expected on common-sense grounds. In addition, four 1 This work was supported by National Science Foundation Grant, GB 1470, and was done at the University of California, Los Angeles. We wish to thank Gerald S. Leventhal for his helpful comments. different instruction conditions were em- ployed. THEORY AND DESIGN The primary focus of the experiment is on two types of potential inconsistencies among the adjectives of a set. In honest-considerate- gloomy, the last adjective has a low value and is affectively inconsistent with the first two adjectives which are of high value. In honest-deceitjul-gloomy, there is not only an analogous affective inconsistency, but also a direct contradiction in meaning between honest and deceitful. This experiment takes up the study of how the subject handles such inconsistencies in forming his impression. Of course, if the subject obeys the simple average model, then the inconsistencies will not affect the response. Suppose, however, that such inconsistency does cause difficulty in forming a unified im- pression. One way to handle the inconsistency would be to discount the inconsistent adjec- tive. In honest-deceitful-gloomy, for instance, one would expect that one of the antonyms would be discounted; presumably the subject would tend to discount honest, basing his impression on deceitful-gloomy since these are both of low value. His impression would then be less favorable than if honest had not been discounted. It is on this general idea that the experi- ment is based. The adjective sets that were used are illustrated in the left part of Table 1. Two different adjectives appear in each 531
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NORMA N H. ANDKKSON AND ANN JAOOISSON TABLE 1 ILLUSTRATIVE 2X^X 2 ADJKCTIVF.-SKT DESION, TOGETHER \\rni THF.ORKTICAJ. PRKDICTIONS, AND SPECIFIC COMI'AKISON COEFFICIENTS 1?OT< THE INTERACTIONS OF THE 2X2X 2 DESIGN HC Set adjectives honest honest reckless reckless honest honest reckless reckless _ deceitful considerate deceitful considerate deceitful considerate deceitful considerate gloomy gloomy gloomy gloomy aimless aimless aimless aimless Set type I ILL HHI, LLL IILL H LL HHL LLL 1TLL Prediction 1 a 2u. 0 a a 2a 0 a 2 a 2/3 0 (Y (V 1(1 0 <v Set A,Ti,C, AiHaC, A,B,C, A 2 B 2 C, AiB,C, A,B»(% A 2 Ji,C 2 AjBaCa column, and these are combined in all possi- ble ways to yield eight different sets of three adjectives each. Of the adjectives in Table 1, honest and considerate are of high value on a likableness scale and are denoted by H. The remaining adjectives are of low value and are denoted by L. A set with one H and two Ls will be denoted by HHL, etc. A set containing an antonyrnic pair will be indicated by an over- bar: honest-deceitful-gloomy is denoted by HLL. With this notation, _the_eight sets of Table 1 are of four types: HLL, HHL, LLL, and HLL, as listed in the table. To illustrate the theoretical predictions, suppose for pro tern convenience that each L has scale value 0, and that each H has scale value 3a. In the simple average model, the predicted response to any set is simply the arithmetic mean of the scale values of the several ad- jectives of the set. Since all Ls have the value 0 by assumption, the response to LLL will be 0. The response to HLL will be (3oH : 0 + 0)/3, which equals a. The response to HLL, which contains the antonymic pair, will also be a. Finally, the response to HHL will be (3a + 3a + 0)/3, which equals 2a. These predictions of the simple average model are given in the Prediction 1 column in Table 1. A second set of predictions is obtained if the affective and antonymic inconsistencies mentioned above cause the subject to dis- count one of the adjectives. Consider first the two HLL sets in which, presumably, there will be a general tendency to discount the H. If so, the response will be based pri- marily on the two Ls and will be less favor- able, therefore, than if the H had not been discounted. If the response to HLL is denoted by «', then discounting implies that «' is less than a. Predictions for the other three types of set are obtained in the same way. For HLL, the subject again presumably tends to discount the H since it is affectively inconsistent with the two Ls. Hence the response to HLL, de- noted by a, will also be lower than the value a predicted by the simple average model. For HHL sets, the subject presumably tends to discount the L, and base his impression primarily on the two Hs. His response to HHL, denoted by 2/3, will then be higher than the value 2 a predicted by the simple average model. Finally, for LLL sets, which presum- ably contain no marked inconsistency, it is supposed that no discounting occurs and that the simple average model applies. Thus, the predicted response to LLL is 0. This set of predictions, based on the dis- counting hypothesis, is summarized in the Prediction 2 column in Table 1. Although
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Algebraic model of Impression Formation Anderson & Jacobson (1965) o What were they looking at? How people combine information to form an overall impression. o What did they do? Showed participants several sets of three adjectives describing a person. e.g. deceitful, honest, considerate o How much would you like this person? Condition 1: Three people who know the person well contribute one word each, each word is equally important (equal weight). Condition 2: Three people who know the person well contribute one word each, but each person might not be a good judge of personality (non-equal weight). Condition 3: Three people contribute one word each, but only two of the people know the person well so choose the two most important words (non- equal weight). Condition 4: Same as for Condition 3, but state the word out loud. o Interpretation o Results consistent with the idea that impression formation is an averaging process. o Each stimulus had value to the subject unless told to disregard that stimulus. o But they only used a small number of traits presented at the same time, so not a good test of the possible role of schemas (although not designed to test that possibility). Schemas and events (ONLY LOOK AT STUDY 2 IN THIS READING) Hansen (1989) o What were they looking at? The eFects of priming a schema on the appraisal and recall of a subsequent social interaction. o What did they do? Used rock music videos to prime sex-role schemas 1. “boy meets girl” 2. “boy dumps girl” Watched an interaction between a man and a woman Consistent or inconsistent with one of the above schemas o What they found Actors evaluated more positively when the interaction was consistent with the schema portrayed in the video. o Interpretation o Events are represented schematically, as consistency with the event schema aFected evaluations. o Later behaviours were interpreted in the context of the earlier primed script. o But this was looking at inconsistency between events (prime) and behaviours (roles), not inconsistency within event features. o How do people form impressions about events that might have elements that are inconsistent, do they use a schema to organise the impression?
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Format and structure : A lab report follows a deFned format. You should write your report using the following informaTon as a guide. A research report provides a wri±en account of a piece of research. It should be wri±en in a clear and concise format, so that the research can be readily understood, and repeated or extended by others. ²o help readers know where to look for the informaTon they need from a report, psychology reports are wri±en in a standard format, which has been speciFed by the American Psychological AssociaTon (APA). A research report must tell the reader: Why you did the research What you expected to Fnd What you actually did What you found How you interpreted the results ²he theoreTcal and pracTcal implicaTons of your results. Word Limit: 1000 words for the complete assignment. ²here is no +/- 10% rule for the word limit. A note on using quotes: Please do not use quotes in your assignment. Because we want you to demonstrate your own understanding of the material, and not just cut and paste together a series of quotes, you will not receive marks for any quoted material (you will simply use up your word count). What to include in your full submission: ²itle page IntroducTon Discussion Reference list Topic Overview Our project asks the following quesTon: Do people form impressions about events in an algebraic manner or based on schemas? A bit of background. As you may remember from our lecture on social cogniTon, impression formaTon is the process by which people combine informaTon about others to make overall judgements. We talked about two possible ways that researchers thought impressions might be formed. ²he Frst of these was via an algebraic process. Basically this just means that the informaTon we have access to is combined in some kind of mathemaTcal manner to arrive at an impression. Anderson (1965) proposed that there were three di³erent possible algebraic models of impression formaTon.
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The frst oF these was the summa±ve model. According to this model a perceiver simply adds together the Favourableness oF each bit oF inForma±on about a person (i.e., the evalua±ons oF that person’s traits) to arrive at an impression. So iF there are more posi±ve, or more highly posi±ve, traits compared to nega±ve traits, then the overall impression will be posi±ve. The second algebraic model is called the averaging model. According to this model, the overall model is simply the average oF the evalua±ons oF the target person’s traits (i.e., the sum divided by the number oF traits). The fnal model is the weighted algebraic model. The idea here is that the value or important oF traits can vary as a Func±on oF various Factors, such as the social context. ²or example, we might value having a sense oF humour as being more important in a party context compared to visi±ng a doctor For a check up. Those traits that are more important will be weighted more heavily in the overall average impression. This fnal model seems to have the most support oF all oF the algebraic models (Anderson & Jacobson, 1965). A be³er ft For how people actually Form impressions about people is the confgura±onal or Gestalt model oF impression (see Asch, 1946). According to this model, the overall impression is not normed by some kind oF mechanical combina±on oF inForma±on about a person, but rather emerges From the confgura±on or context oF the inForma±on we have about a person. According to this model, some traits are more important than others because the shape the meaning oF those other traits. We call the important traits the “central traits”, and the remaining characteris±cs the “peripheral traits”. More recently, the idea oF central traits has been supplanted by the more general concept oF schemas (see Kunda & Thagard, 1996). While there are some important caveats to how schemas about social categories are used to Form impressions depending on the target (Hamilton & Sherman, 1996), there is good evidence that schemas are centrally involved in the impression Forma±on process. As you know From the lecture, schemas are cogni±ve structures that represent our knowledge about a concept or type oF s±mulus. They are Formed on the basis oF past experience, and they are like our theories For why things are the way they are. They allow us to encode, store, and retrieve inForma±on about things (Alba & Hasher, 1983). We can have schemas about a range oF targets such as people, events, and ourselves. HopeFully this is all revision For you as we spent some ±me on this in the lecture. IF you need to review the lecture recording For this topic, now is probably a good ±me to go and do that. As we said, in the class project we are looking at how people Form impressions about events (not people). Hamilton and Sherman (1996) suggest that we use the same type oF impression Forma±on process For individuals and social groups. Hansen’s (1989) study implies that there is some compa±bility between how we Form impressions oF individuals and events because in that study the schema associated with an event influenced how an individual was perceived. Given that events are represented in terms oF schemas (e.g., Hard, Tversky, & Lang, 2006), it seems sensible to ask whether we Form impressions about events in a similar way as we Form impressions about people. Our study looks at whether we use a schema-based method oF Forming impressions about events, or whether impressions about events are based on an algebraic method oF impression Forma±on. IF impressions about events are Formed algebraically, then we would expect that the simple number oF schema-congruent cues that are present will predict how much we see the event as a typical event. ²or example, see the table below: 0 congruent cues 1 congruent cues 2 congruent cues Not typical Moderately typical Very typical
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Algebraic Model2.docx

1 Running head: ALGEBRAIC MODEL Topic: Algebraic Model of Impression Formation Student’s Name: Course Name: Date of Submission: April, 2016 2 Effect of Stimulus Inconsistency and the Influence of...

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