Confirmation bias and the testing of hypotheses about other people
Burchell, Brendan (1986) Confirmation bias and the testing of hypotheses about other people. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b1447798~S15
Critical reviews of the literatures on self-fulfilling
prophecies and self-confirming hypotheses uncovered several
weaknesses in key works on those topics. In particular two
important flaws were revealed. Hypotheses and expectations
were confused and confounded and the most important aspect of
these effects in person perception, changes in the perceiver's representation of the target, were ignored. Instead
these works either made inferences about the perceivers'
judgments from other individuals with different perspectives,
or claimed to have demonstrated the effect of manipulating
the hypothesis whereas their results were probably attributable
to manipulating expectancies instead. It was argued
that both of these types of inferences are invalid, and reanalyses
of data from empirical works showed that the claims
were not justified.
A series of experiments was conducted in an attempt to
find unequivocal evidence of self-confirming hypotheses.
Numerous reasons were found as to why the phenomenon was
highly unlikely to occur in social interaction. For
instance, the asking of biased questions was found not to
occur when perceivers generated their own questions to ask
instead of selecting from a list given to them. In addition,
subjects modified the questions they asked during the course
of social interactions in such a way as to eliminate any
possible bias in information search. Even when questions
searching for confirmatory evidence were asked there was
little evidence that interviewers' judgements were biased in
favour of confirming their hypotheses.
By contrast strong evidence was found for self-confirming
hypotheses when subjects used information from
their own memories to test hypotheses about aquaintances.
These findings were discussed in the light of other
paradigms within social psychology. Reasons why social
cognition has, at times, so underestimated human rationality
were considered and several conclusions were made including
the need for greater caution in attempting to emulate and
understand social processes in a laboratory setting.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Self-fulfilling prophecy, Perception -- Testing, Hypothesis, Test bias|
|Official Date:||September 1986|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Department of Psychology|
|Supervisor(s)/Advisor:||Morley, Ian E.|
|Extent:||ix, 330, 3 p.|
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