Perseverance in self-perception and social perception: Biased attributional processes in the debriefing paradigm

Ross, L.; Lepper, M.R.; Hubbard, M.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Two experiments with a total of 60 female high school students and 144 female undergraduates demonstrated that self-perceptions and social perceptions may persevere after the initial basis for such perceptions has been completely discredited. In both studies Ss first received false feedback, indicating that they had either succeeded or failed on a novel discrimination task and then were thoroughly debriefed concerning the predetermined and random nature of this outcome manipulation. In Exp II, both the initial outcome manipulation and subsequent debriefing were watched and overheard by observers. Both actors and observers showed substantial perseverance of initial impressions concerning the actors' performance and abilities following a standard "outcome" debriefing. "Process" debriefing, in which explicit discussion of the perseverance process was provided, generally proved sufficient to eliminate erroneous self-perceptions. Biased attribution processes that might underlie perseverance phenomena and the implications for the ethical conduct of deception research are discussed. (28 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved). © 1975 American Psychological Association.