Chapter

The Less Than Awesome Power of Expectations to Distort Information-Seeking

Lee Jussim

in Social Perception and Social Reality

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780195366600
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933044 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195366600.003.0032
The Less Than Awesome Power of Expectations to Distort Information-Seeking

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This chapter presents a critical analysis of claims that perceivers seek social information in ways that constrain targets’ reactions in such a manner as to almost ensure expectancy confirmation. First, it shows that the early research never actually demonstrated anything remotely supporting such a strong conclusion. Second, it reviews the subsequent research, which generally shows that people do not seek social information in ways that constrain targets’ behavior or responses; people generally seek social information in ways maximally conducive to fairly diagnosing or testing their expectations, rather than ways highly biased toward confirming those expectations; people do have a very slight tendency to ask questions to which a “yes” answer is more likely to confirm than disconfirm their expectations; and this tendency combines with acquiescence (a response bias whereby people are more likely to respond “yes” to any question) to create a small bias in social interaction toward targets giving responses that confirm perceivers’ expectations. However, the extent to which even such responses lead to behavioral confirmation of self-fulfilling prophecies is likely to be modest.

Keywords: bias; interpersonal expectancies; confirmatory biases; information seeking

Chapter.  5455 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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