Alternative modes of self-enhancement

Material Information

Alternative modes of self-enhancement
Ashton, Nancy Lynn, 1950- ( Dissertant )
Shaw, Marvin E. ( Thesis advisor )
Schlenker, Barry R. ( Reviewer )
Baldridge, Barbara L. ( Reviewer )
Feldman, Jack M. ( Reviewer )
McClave, James T. ( Reviewer )
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
Physical Description:
vii, 111 leaves : ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Causality ( jstor )
Negative feedback ( jstor )
Personality psychology ( jstor )
Platform shoes ( jstor )
Positive feedback ( jstor )
Psychological assessment ( jstor )
Self esteem ( jstor )
Social comparison ( jstor )
Social psychology ( jstor )
T shirts ( jstor )
Dissertations, Academic -- Psychology -- UF ( lcsh )
Psychology thesis Ph. D ( lcsh )
Self-perception -- Testing ( lcsh )
Self-reliance ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Numerous conceptual writings and experimental works dealing with self-concept and self-esteem suggest that under certain conditions individuals have a need to aggrandize and enhance their self-concept, even to the point of denial or distortion of "reality." This is viewed as a normal and valid part of self-evaluation and behavior, though it can reach extreme and unproductive limits in certain personality disorders. The present investigation was designed to study this notion of self-enhancement as ar. alternative form of behavior to accurate selfassessment of abilities and opinions as presented in Festinger's theory of social comparison processes. Seventeen hypotheses were tested dealing with alternative responses to feedback about one's performance. Data were collected on 96 female and 96 male college students from introductory psychology classes at the University of Florida by two teams of experimenter?. Independent variable manipulations were: the nature of the particular characteristic on which subjects were evaluated (opinion or ability), importance of the particular characteristic (high or low importance) , credibility of the source of feedback (moderate or low), and nature of the feedback (positive or negative). Response measures included self-esteem, attributions of causality for one's performance, evaluation of the characteristic, evaluation of the source of feedback, and a behavioral social comparison measure. Results indicated little support for the experimental hypotheses, largely due to the unexpected effect of the feedback variable. One hypothesis on attributions of causality received some support in that the two ability/feedback conditions differed in attribution to luck while the two opinion/feedback conditions did not. The other hypotheses were not supported. However, there were some indications of selfenhancing responses, though in different ways than were predicted. Results suggested that subjects did devalue an important characteristic and credible source after receiving negative feedback. There was some limited evidence for use of alternative modes of enhancement after negative feedback and for opinions. Alternative explanations for the results and implications for future research are discussed.
Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography: leaves 104-110.
Additional Physical Form:
Also available on World Wide Web
General Note:
General Note:
Statement of Responsibility:
by Nancy Lynn Ashton.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
000178780 ( alephbibnum )
03132210 ( oclc )
AAU5294 ( notis )


This item has the following downloads:

Full Text








Len Bickman first fostered my excitement about social psychology

and gave me invaluable research experience. He also gave me the im-

portant pointer, "Nancy, it doesn't take brains to get a Ph.D., just

perseverance." Mary Shaw ably served as chairman of my committee. In

this role he helped me think through the conceptualization and method-

ology, organize the manuscript and more times than he knew he lifted

my morale and made me see thirgs in the proper perspective.

Barry Schlenker, Jack Feldman, and Barbara Baldridge gave assis-

tance on methodological questions and writing style and James McClave

helped on the analyses. Franz Epting deserves special thanks for being

there at the end.

Thanks also go to Mary Brennan, Carol Cohen and Jennifer Thom for

serving as experimenters.

I'd like to thank the subjects, but given the results, it's hard

to do so!



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . .. . . . . . ii

LIST OF TABLES . . . . . . . . ... . . . . v

ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . ... . . . . . vi


ONE: INTRODUCTION. . . . . . . . ... .... 1

Responses to Performance Feedback . . . . . . 6

Self-esteem. . . . . . . .... .. .. 6
Attributions of Causality . . . . . . . 8
Evaluation of the Characteristic . . . . . 9
Evaluation of the Source of Feedback . . . .. 10
Choice of Social Comparison. . . . . . ... 10
Summary. . . . . . . . . . . ... 11

Influencing Variables and Empirical Predictions ... 11

Importance of the Characteristic . . . . .. 11
Nature of the Characteristic . . . . ... 16
Source of Feedback . . . . . . . ... 19
Feedback Outcome . . . . . . . ... 23

Summary and Hypotheses. . . . . . . . ... 29

TWO: METHODOLOGY . . . . . . . . ... . .33

Subjects. . . . . . . . . ... ...... .33

Design and Overview . . . . . . . . ... 33

Independent Variable Manipulations . . . ... 34

Procedure . . . . . . . .... .. . . .. 38

Dependent Variable Measures . . . .... . . 41

THREE: RESULTS . . . . . . . . . .... . 44

FOUR: DISCUSSION. . . . . . . . . ... .. .. 61



APPENDICES ........................... 70




REFERENCES. . . . . ..... . . . . .... .104

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . . . . . . .. . . .111


Table Page

1. Mean Ratings for Independent Variable Characteristics . 35

2. Manipulation Check for Credibility Variable. . . . ... 37

3. Manipulation Check for Feedback Variable. . . . ... 38

4. Reliability and Validity Data for Self-esteem Scales. .. 42

5. 'Mean Ratings of Attribution Items for Hypothesis II . . 47

6. Mean Ratings for Hypothesis III . . . . . . . 48

7. Mean Ratings for Second Social Comparison Measure

(Hypothesis IV) . . . . . . . .... ..... 49

8. Mean Ratings for Second Social Comparison Measure

(Hypothesis V). . . . . . . . . . . . 50

9. Mean Ratings for Attribution Items (Hypothesis VII) . . 52

10. Mean Ratings for Hypothesis VIII. . . . . . 52

11. Mean Ratings for Evaluation of Source (Hypothesis X). . 54

12. Correlations > .36 by Condition and Related Contingency

Tables. . . .. . . . . . . . .. 58

13. Contingency Tables for Median Ranks . . .... . . 60

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy




August, 1976

Chairman: Dr. Marvin E. Shaw
Major Department: Psychology

Numerous conceptual writings and experimental works dealing with

self-concept and self-esteem suggest that under certain conditions

individuals have a need to aggrandize and enhance their self-concept,

even to the point of denial or distortion of "reality." This is viewed

as a normal and valid part of self-evaluation and behavior, though it

can reach extreme and unproductive limits in certain personality dis-


The present investigation was designed to study this notion of

self-enhancement as an alternative form of behavior to accurate self-

assessment of abilities and opinions as presented in Festinger's theory

of social comparison processes. Seventeen hypotheses were tested

dealing with alternative responses to feedback about one's performance.

Data were collected on 96 female and 96 male college students from

introductory psychology classes at the University of Florida by two

teans of experimenters. Independent variable manipulations were: the

nature of the particular characteristic on which subjects were evaluated

(opinion or ability), importance of the particular characteristic (high

or low importance), credibility of the source of feedback (moderate or

low),and nature of the feedback (positive or negative). Response mea-

sures included self-esteem, attributions of causality for one's per-

formance, evaluation of the characteristic, evaluation of the source of

feedback, and a behavioral social comparison measure.

Results indicated little support for the experimental hypotheses,

largely due to the unexpected effect of the feedback variable. One

hypothesis on attributions of causality received some support in that

the two ability/feedback conditions differed in attribution to luck

while the two opinion/feedback conditions did not. The other hypotheses

were not supported. However, there were some indications of self-

enhancing responses, though in different ways than were predicted.

Results suggested that subjects did devalue an important characteristic

and credible source after receiving negative feedback. There was some

limited evidence for use of alternative modes of enhancement after

negative feedback and for opinions. Alternative explanations for the

results and implications for future research are discussed.


Much of human behavior and perceptions centers around making

judgments about the world; that is, evaluating persons and relevant

stimuli in order to effectively deal with the environment. But in-

dividuals not only form judgments of objects and other people, they also

go through a process of self-evaluation. As they do for objects and

other people, so individuals attach meaning and a sense of worth to

themselves. This brings forth an affective reaction and a cognitive

core of beliefs about one's worth. Such a process can be very important

in human development and interaction, and is related to such topics as

achievement motivation, affiliation, interpersonal relations and group

processes. In fact, every aspect of our experience--our behavior, per-

cepcions, thoughts and feelings--can be seen as influenced by and as

influencing our self-conceptions and evaluations of ourselves.

Festinger's theory of social comparison processes (1954a) includes

a series of hypotheses relating to self-evaluation and behaviors de-

signed to complete the self-assessment process. Festinger states that

there is a human drive to evaluate one's abilities and opinions, and

that we all seek information to assist us in an accurate assessment.

Humans have a positive motivation to know their environment and in fact

direct much of their behavior to finding out about the world around

them. More specifically, we try to find out what we can and cannot do,

and whether our opinions are valid. This has important implications


for our development and self-preservation. It becomes urgent to have

precise and valid knowledge about our abilities and perceptions. A

process of "reality testing" would enable us to assure ourselves that

our opinions are correct and our abilities properly appraised, but for

many judgments there exists no independent reality test. This is

especially true for opinions, and points up an important difference

between abilities and opinions that is addressed later. We must compare

our abilities and opinions to others' abilities and opinions in order to

complete our self-assessment. Festinger (1954b) says that in this way

a non-social motivation to know what we can and cannot do leads to

social behavior in the form of comparison with others. Nissen (1954)

cites comparative support for a universal drive to know, in that animals

seek precise information but depend more on their sense organs than do

humans for reality testing and accurate assessment. Due to less de-

veloped sense organs in humans, the social process becomes very impor-


Since the original paper on social comparison processes (1954a)

others have expanded Festinger's notions about opinion and ability

assessment to include evaluations of emotions (Schachter, 1959) and

personality characteristics (Hakmiller, 1966; Wheeler, 1966). The basic

assumption underlying these works is that when objective, non-social

means are not available as a standard, people compare themselves with

others on the salient opinion, ability, emotion or personality charac-

teristic, thus using social rather than physical reality as the basis

of their assessment. Building on the further assumption that accuracy

is the most salient goal for individuals, Festinger hypothesizes that

people compare themselves with a similar individual since the most

information can be obtained from that type of comparison.

There are two objections to Festinger's thesis. First, several

researchers have challenged the notion that a similar other will be

chosen for comparison. For one thing, similar others do not always

provide the most information (Gruder, 1971; Strauss, 1967; Wheeler,

Shaver, Jones, Goethals, Cooper, Robinson, Cruder and Butzine, 1969).

There are situations when more information can be obtained from com-

paring oneself to a dissimilar rather than similar comparison other.

One example of this is when the individual does not know the range of

a particular ability or opinion. The second criticism is more basic--

that individuals may not always desire accuracy. A parallel process to

accurate self-appraisal operates in the form of self-enhancement. Ob-

viously, there are times when accurate assessment of oneself is important.

For example, when about to undertake some task requiring certain skills,

it is advantageous to know if one has the necessary ability. Certain

short-term and long-term decisions in an individual's life necessitate

accurate evaluation of abilities and opinions. But humans also have a

desire for self-enhancement; they want to look good in front of others,

and furthermore often prefer to look good to themselves. This desire

may override the need for accuracy in presentation and evaluation.

Extrapolating from Festinger's framework, there are situations

under which individuals might be expected to choose a person who is

more negative than themselves, thus making themselves look good in com-

parison. This would occur in a threatening situation or at a time when

self-esteem is more important than accuracy. Hakmiller (1966) found

that subjects in a high-threat condition focused more upon dissimilar

others than did subjects in the low-threat condition, choosing comparison

others who were more likely to do worse than themselves. He calls this

phenomenon defensive social comparison, in that subjects reduced the

threat of negative information about themselves by choosing comparison

with someone who was worse. Darley and Aronson's (1966) affiliation

study showed a similar effect; subjects in a high-fear-uncertainty con-

dition chose to wait with someone who's fear reaction was lower than

their own rather than with someone who's fear reaction was similar to

their own. Rose (1966) states that a person controls the selection of

others and can therefore exercise the power to enhance the self.

Many conceptual writings expound on the process of enhancing the

self for the benefit of both others' opinions of an individual and in

terms of that individual's self-perceptions and evaluations. In a dis-

cussion of reference group phenomena, Hyman and Singer (1968) note that

in the process of self-appraisal the individual selects the social com-

parison standard. The choice of a comparison can maintain, enhance or

injure self-regard. Gergen (1971) refers to the emotional component of

self-evaluation and states that there is a strong tendency to select

cues providing positive confirmation of the self. We undertake per-

ceptual scanning that is biased toward seeing ourselves as we wish to

be. Allport (1968) listed ego-enhancement as one aspect of the proprium

or self. Wylie (1961) included references to self-enhancement and

Sullivan (1953) proposed that the self-system, which is concerned with

protecting the individual's self-esteem, is capable of selective in-

attention. In their theory, Combs and Snygg (1959) speak of the

important needs of maintenance and enhancement of the self and how

these affect the perceptions of individuals. For Heider (1958), when

the personal lots of p and o are compared, self-concept is directly


affected and in fact may be enhanced or undermined as a result of com-

parison with someone else. We try to preserve a good image and produce

a good opinion of ourselves in others by showing our positive side and

hiding what is negative. Heider (1944) says that in addition to the

tendency to see ourselves and others in certain ways, we have a tendency

to keep our ego-level high. Pepitone (1964) hypothesizes a unidirec-

tional pressure toward maintaining or enhancing self-esteem. Crowne

and Marlowe (1964) state that people attempt to validate their own

self-worth in their defensive efforts to cope with anticipated failure.

Rogers (1951) put forth a series of propositions about the self

and its growth. He stated that the organism has one basic tendency and

striving to actualize, to maintain and enhance the self. Most of the

ways of behaving which the organism adopts are those which are consis-

tent with the concept of the self. Any experience which is inconsistent

may be perceived as a threat. A larger number or greater intensity of

threat-perceptions leads to more rigid organization of the self-

structure to maintain itself. One defense under threat is selective

perception or the distortion and omission of data. Rogers also empha-

sizes the need for positive self-regard. In general, these and other

formulations about the self make the point that there is a desire to

protect one's ego by perceiving the world and presenting oneself so as

to perpetuate a favorable image in the eyes of others and in the mirror

on oneself.

Empirical work likewise relates to this notion of self-enhancement.

Schlenker (1975b) cites evidence that undergraduates do desire self-

enhancement and in fact ignore information known only to themselves

when selecting a public image. Jones (1973), in his review of the

self-evaluation literature, finds more support for the incentive posi-

tion that individuals prefer favorable evaluations than he does for the

consistency viewpoint that people most desire consistent information.

In Schneider's (1969) study, subjects were given bogus feedback on their

performance on a social sensitivity test. Subjects in the failure

condition were more self-enhancing in their presentations in that they

emphasized positive points about themselves rather than negative points.

There are numerous behaviors that relate to attempts at self-

enhancement and the process of ego-maintenance. We consider five such

behaviors as they relate to the independent variables under considera-

tion. Modes of self-enhancement include such responses as attributions

of causality for one's performance, evaluation of the characteristic on

which the individual is evaluated, evaluation of the source of feedback

and social comparison choice. Change in self-esteem, the fifth response,

is not a self-enhancement tactic, but rather happens when self-enhance-

ment does not occur. Some general discussion of these topics is in

order before we turn to the factors influencing self-enhancement.

Responses to Performance Feedback


Self-esteem can be viewed in terms of evaluative attitudes toward

the self; as an attitude of approval or disapproval it indicates the

extent to which individuals believe themselves to be capable, worthy

and successful (Coopersmith, ]967). Attitudes toward the self are

defined in the same way as attitudes toward other objects--as orienta-

tions toward or asay from some object or event, as predispositions to


respond favorably or unfavorably toward these and related objects and

events. And like other attitudes, self-evaluations carry affective

loadings and have motivational consequences. Argyle (1969) defines

self-esteem as the extent to which a person has favorable attitudes

toward the self. In other words, there is a favorable or unfavorable

attitude of "I" toward "me." Shaw and Wright's (1967) presentation of

attitude scales includes defining characteristics of attitudes that also

apply to self-evaluations. Attitudes are based upon evaluative concepts

regarding characteristics of the referent object and give rise to

motivated behavior. They vary in quality and strength on a positive-

neutral-negative continuum. Attitudes are learned, have specific

referents and possess varying degrees of interrelatedness to one another.

Though they are relatively stable and enduring, they are subject to

change. Shaw and Wright present attitude scales for self-acceptance

that measure attitude toward the self.

Coopersmith (1967) also points out some dissimilarities between

attitudes toward other objects and self-attitudes. Self-esteem differs

from other attitudes in that the self is the only person who formulates

the abstraction, appreciates its limits and content, and is in a posi-

tion to define and evaluate its characteristics. In addition, the

object under consideration (oneself) is different for each individual.

Because this work includes reference to opinions at a later point

in the discussion, it is necessary to give brief mention to the dis-

tinction between attitude and opinion in social psychological litera-

ture. Shaw and Wright (1967) note that though an opinion is similar

to an attitude in that both involv- cognitions about the wcrld, it

differs from an attitude in that chare is no commitment associated with


it. They cite other researchers who state that opinions are verbal-

izable while attitudes are sometimes "unconscious." Furthermore,

opinions are responses while attitudes are response predispositions.

Berkowitz (1972) states that opinions have no dynamic or driving pro-

perties and are assumptions or judgments that the individual believes

to be true. In cor.trast, attitudes have motivational impact. In gener-

al, attitudes have more influence on human behavior and hold more

emotional meaning for the individual.

The origins of one's self-image and self-esteem are probably the

reactions of others (Argyle, 1969; Symonds, 1951). Charles Cooley

(1968) discussed the notion of "social self," and the looking-glass

concept, which refers to the fact that the self reflects imagined

reactions and appraisals by others. The individual thus interprets

judgments of the self held by others. Continuing in this tradition,

Mead (1968) offered the proposal that the self is determined by actual

reactions of significant others to the self and by the individual's

imitation of these reactions. Much empirical work and observation of

behavior shows that our evaluations of ourselves are very much affected

by the implicit and explicit feedback we get from others about our

standing relative to others.

Attributions of Causality

Change in self-esteem is one possible consequence of feedback about

one's standing on a particular attribute, but there exist mechanisms to

deal with feedback such that self-esteem is not affected. By changing

attributions one can alter the degree to which a given performance is

seen as a reflection of the self. Heider (1958) went into detail about

the fact that observers are interested not only in what can do, but

whether p's performance is due to either personal characteristics or

the environment. In an earlier article (Heider, 1944) he quoted Hoppe's

point that not only is success or failure important, but the beloning-

ness of them to the person is crucial. In Heider's system, can ex-

presses ability, which is seen as a stable underlying disposition. But

ability may be attributed to person or the environment, in that it

refers to power and effective environmental force. By attributing a

performance to either person or environment, one is able to control the

presumed locus of causality, which may have strong effects on the judg-

ment of the actor as an individual. And we are prone to alter percep-

tions of causality so as to protect or enhance self-esteem, by attributing

good outcomes to our own characteristics and bad outcomes to external

sources. Thus egocentric perceptions reflect the tendency to structure

perceptions of causality such that we obtain credit for good actions

and avoid blame for bad outcomes. Feather (1968) states that it is

likely that there is an asymmetry in attribution of responsibility for

outcomes depending upon whether one succeeds or fails. This expectation

is based on Heider's balance theory (Feather, 1969).

Evaluation of the Characteristic

Another type of cognitive mechanism is available to a person

attempting self-enhancement under the guise of self-evaluation of per-

sonal characteristics--that is, one can re-evaluate the characteristic

to maximize self-aggrandizement. If one fails at a task or is inferior

to others on an attribute, one can devalue the importance of the attri-

bute and treat is as trivial. On the other hand, one can magnify and


emphasize the significance of attributes on which one excels. Heider

(1958) states that the value of something may be reassessed by the

person who lacks it, and Lewin, Dembo, Festinger and Sears (1944) speak

of switching standards to avoid feeling failure. Lecky (1969) cites as

one method of dealing with inconsistencies the notion that the individual

will interpret an incident in such a way that it can be assimilated.

A graphic picture of re-evaluation comes to mind in the Aesop fable

about the fox who devalues the grapes he cannot have.

Evaluation of the Source of Feedback

In addition to an evaluation of the attribute itself, an individual

makes a judgment of the source of feedback. Evaluations can mean dif-

ferent things depending upon the source from which they originate. An

individual often has available the mechanism of devaluing the credibility

of a source who says something negative, or of enhancing the credibility

of someone who says something positive. Argyle (1969) notes that this

option of devaluing the source of information or the carrier of infor-

mation is one way of preserving self-esteem.

Choice of Social Comparison

The final response measure to be considered in this paper is social

comparison choice. Previous discussion has noted that this is a tactic

one can use to make oneself feel better by comparing with someone who is

worse off than oneself (e.g. Hakmiller, 1966).


In discussing self-esteem, social comparison, attributions of

causality and evaluation of both the attribute and the source of feed-

back, we have considered five reactions to others' evaluations of us.

Four of these factors (attributions of causality, social comparison

choice, evaluation of the attribute, evaluation of the source of feed-

back) can be used to achieve self-enhancement, while self-esteem change

is another possible reaction. There are of course many variables that

pertain to and influence attempts at self-enhancement and changes in

self-esteem, but only a few of the important ones are considered here.

We deal with the importance of the characteristic on which the indi-

vidual is evaluated, whether it is an opinion or ability, the source

of feedback in terms of credibility, and whether the individual re-

ceives positive or negative feedback. In accord with the conceptual

and empirical evidence cited, specific hypotheses are then advanced.

Influencing Variables and Empirical Predictions

Importance of the Characteristic

This section includes material relevant to importance of the

particular characteristic from the areas of self psychology, attitude

change and social comparison processes. Allport (1968) distinguished

between matters that are vital and central to the self and those that

are peripheral. The assumption is that important characteristics are

vital to the self and it is more likely that self-esteem pressure will

arise with more important characteristics (Singer, 1966). Rose (1956)

stated that self-enhancement occurs more strongly when the contents are

very salient to the individual. He defines content salience as impor-

tance to 2 of a particular kind of evaluation. Rosenberg (1968)

emphasized the importance of knowing how much a person values a quality

and how good the person wants to be. In reading through the literature

one notes the many definitions of importance as well as the fuzzy dis-

tinctions between importance and related terms such as salience and

valence. In the conceptualization here a characteristic that is impor-

tant to someone is defined as being of greater value to that person.

Presumably the person cares more about being good on an important char-

acteristic than on an unimportant one. The drive to evaluate is thus

more pertinent for central, vital, important characteristics. Festinger

(1954a) says that in a group situation there is an increase in the

pressure to reduce any discrepancy of opinion as the importance of the

issue increases. Argyle (1969) points out that the self influences

behavior in situations which are ego-involving and which bring self-

esteem into operation. He also notes that importance to the performer

of the variable being assessed influences the extent to which self-

awareness is aroused.

Researchers in the area of attitude change have also considered

the impact of importance of the attitude object and related concepts to

behavioral response. In the social judgment theory of attitude change,

Sherif and Hovland (1961) consider the topic of involvement in an issue

and its relation to latitudes of acceptance and rejection in an attitude

change situation. They state that ego-involvement limits the range of

assimilation for attitude positions different from one's own. Rokeach

(1968) also notes that not all beliefs are equally important to the

individual. Beliefs vary along a central-peripheral continuum. The

more a belief is functionally connected with other beliefs, the more

central it is and the more implications it has for other beliefs. He

has experimental support for the idea that individuals show greater

resistance to change on central rather than peripheral beliefs.

Other theories dealing with attitude change recognize the impli-

cations of the importance of a belief or attitude. Festinger (1957)

states that the more important an attitude is to an individual, the

greater will be the resulting dissonance after exposure to contradictory

bits of information. And greater dissonance leads to a stronger moti-

vation to do something to reduce the dissonance. Abelson (1967) proposes

that when two cognitive elements stand in imbalanced relation to each

other, the tendency will be to apply bolstering toward the more in-

tensely affected element. Another possible response is denial of the

implications of the less intensely affected element and/or denial of

the relation between the two elements. Krech and Crutchfield (1948)

state that in understanding and predicting behavior it is as necessary

to know how important or central an attitude is as it is to know the

sign or extremity of the attitude. Eagly and Manis (1966) found that

issue involvement had a significant effect on junior high school stu-

dents' responses to messages challenging their views. For high involve-

ment the communicator and message were evaluated much less favorably

than when subjects were characterized by low involvement.

The above citations refer to importance of the characteristic

itself. While social comparison literature has not directly considered

this factor, the results of the Hakmiller (1966) and Wheeler (1966)

studies show that evaluation of the characteristic prior to receiving

feedback is influential. Wheeler found that when the characteristic was


positively valued subjects chose similar comparisons, but Hakmiller

dealt with negatively valued traits and found no support for the simi-

larity notion. Thornton and Arrowood (1966) conducted research on the

goal valence of an ability (strongly positive or strongly negative) and

found that a significantly greater number of subjects chose to compare

with someone better off than themselves in the positive than in the

negative conditions. Wheeler et al. (1969) found that the direction of

comparison (downward or upward) was related to positivity-negativity of

the characteristic. These experiments were not considering the impor-

tance of the characteristic per se but they do illustrate that prior

evaluations of the attribute can differentially affect behavior.

In accord with the conceptual and empirical work cited, several

hypotheses are proposed. It is hypothesized that negative feedback on

an important attribute is more likely to lower self-esteem than is

negative feedback on an unimportant characteristic. Likewise, reactions

to positive feedback differ based on the importance of the character-

istic, with positive feedback on an important attribute more likely to

raise self-esteem than positive feedback on an unimportant one (Hypoth-

esis I).

In terms of attributions, the motivation is greater to attribute

negative feedback on an important characteristic to the environment and

positive feedback to the self than when the characteristic is less

important. This constitutes Hypothesis II. Schlenker (1975a) obtained

significant positive correlations between importance of doing well and

subjective ratings of personal responsibility in extreme success con-

ditions. There was not a corresponding negative correlation between

perceived responsibility and importance of doing well in failure


conditions. He suggests that perhaps subjects in failure conditions

were hesitant to attribute failure to the other members of their group

in the study. This could have been due to social constraints against

such behavior or because their identification with their group led

them to include the group in their egocentric attributions. The final

possible explanation is that subjects rationalized failure by denying

the importance of doing well.

Important and central beliefs are more functionally connected to

other beliefs (Rokeach, 1968). For this reason it is more difficult

to re-evaluate the importance of an important characteristic than it is

to change evaluation of an unimportant characteristic (Hypothesis III).

Prior research supports this hypothesis. Miller (1965) found that high

issue involvement consistently reduced the persuasive effect of dis-

crepant information on a variety of response measures. In an opinion

change experiment, subjects high in initial concern for the opinion

issue changed their opinions less than did subjects low in concern for

the issue (Fine, 1957). Similarly Snyder, Mischel and Lott (1960)

studied people who were either high or low on aesthetic value (Vernon-

Allport Study of Values) in a social influence situation. The high-

aesthetic-value subjects conformed much less than did the low-aesthetic-

value subjects. Thus resistance to re-evaluation should be especially

manifest for important characteristics. This parallels the asymmetry

observed in the level of aspiration studies with individuals (Lewin et

al., 1944) and with groups (Zander and Medow, 1963). In the latter

study members' evaluations of their own performance is more strongly

determined by their group's score when the group succeeds than when it



In line with the notion that one cares more about looking good on

an important characteristic, it follows that a self-enhancing comparison

other will more often be chosen on an important characteristic than on

an unimportant one (Hypothesis IV). This contradicts Festinger's

(1954a) hypothesized drive for accuracy, which no doubt should also be

greater for more important issues than for unimportant ones. In making

the enhancement prediction, we are not so much clearly discarding the

Festinger hypothesis as noting an important exception in that we all

seek self-enhancement at times, especially when accuracy is not important

for some decision or future activity.

Nature of the Characteristic

Another aspect of the characteristic is applicable and is in fact

a part of Festinger's (1954a) theory. This has to do with the focus of

evaluation---in Festinger's terms, whether one is being assessed on an

opinion or ability. Although both are considered together in most of

his discussion, Festinger does point out that there are two major dif-

ferences: there are non-social constraints that either make it impossible

to change an ability or make it much harder to change an ability than to

change an opinion, and there exists a unidirectional drive upward for

abilities but not for opinions. This latter point refers to the fact

that different performances on an ability usually have intrinsically

different values, and there is merit set on doing better and better

(at least in Western culture). The higher the score on a performance,

the more desirable it is. But with opinions there is no inherent basis

for preferring one over another. Value comes not from having greater


or less worth, but from the subjective feeling that the opinion is

valid and correct. This relates to Sullivan's (1953) process of the

consensual validation of beliefs and Blau's (1967) point that social

consensus defines beliefs as right or wrong. The distinction between

physical and social reality is relevant here. In determining where a

person stands on an ability, physical reality is a more likely recourse

for judgment, but it is not available in the case of opinions. Further-

more, in line with Gordon's (1966) conceptual and empirical work on

influence theory versus social comparison, an individual can attempt

to persuade someone with a different opinion, but this is not likely

to be an option for someone differing on an ability.

In light of the present conceptualization of self-esteem as an

evaluative attitude toward oneself, and pertinent to abilities and

opinions, it is assumed that there is a unidirectional drive upward.

In other words, it is "better" and more statistically common to have

a positive evaluation of oneself. Self-enhancement behaviors are ex-

amples of attempts to achieve and maintain a positive attitude about

oneself. In the present context one important difference between

opinions and attitude toward oneself is that the unidirectional drive

upward exists for attitudes about oneself. Festinger's (1954a) point

that opinions are valid based only on consensus with opinions of others

can be seen in terms of the self being enhanced if others have similar

opinions. Of course the self is also enhanced if others have favorable

opinions of that person.

Gerard (1968)'states that Festinger misled the field when he dis-

cussed ability and opinion as two distinct processes, since they are

"inextricably connected," with ability comparison being the more

fundamental. Gerard states that a person compares his or her own

opinion to that of someone else in light of what is assumed to be the

ability of the other person to form and hold an opinion on the issue

in question. There is some validity to this point though there seem

to be numerous counter-examples. Are movie stars in possession of

special abilities to hold opinions on breakfast cereals, detergents and

the like? Yet many Americans seem to be influenced by the prestige sug-

gestion that Madison Avenue uses in advertising campaigns. There are

also fundamental differences between opinions and abilities that have

ramifications in personal behavior. For instance, ability but not

opinion is demonstrated through performance. It can therefore be seen

as more of a reflection of the person, and thus is more related to self-

esteem and feelings of worth about oneself. And as Heider (1958) out-

lines so well, attributions of ability are a common part of our lives

in observing others' behavior as well as our own. There exists no such

notion of a stable, underlying disposition when evaluating opinions.

Therefore it is hypothesized that subjects are more likely to

choose a similar supporting social comparison person in the case of

evaluation of opinions than in the case of evaluation of abilities.

Hypothesis 'I follows from the absence of a physical reality to assess

the validity of opinions. Since the subjective feeling of accuracy of

opinions comes from social consensus, individuals are more likely to

look to others of the same opinion. In this manner, individuals can

attach validity to their own opinions.

Opinions have a social basis and therefore can be seen as being

less a reflection of the individual's inherent being than are abilities.

We have stated that there is no notion of an internal attribute of an

opinion that is comparable to the attribution of a personal ability

disposition. Though attributions are made about us on the basis of our

opinions, we have the option of opinion change, which is not as likely

with abilities. Therefore, ability issues are more closely associated

with the individual and have more influence on self-esteem. Thus we

would expect more change in self-esteem following assessment of an

ability than after opinion evaluation (Hypothesis VI). The non-social

constraints on abilities make change less likely as a response than is

opinion change.

Similar reasoning leads to the hypothesis that the attribution of

positive performance to the self and negative performance to the environ-

ment will be more probable for abilities than for opinions (Hypothesis

VII). This is because it is hypothesized that ability forms a more

permanent unit with the self than does opinion, and because self-

enhancement is more important with abilities. In addition, opinion

change is possible when one does not get confirmation of an opinion,

but ability change is not usually available to an individual. Because

of this asymmetry, re-evaluation of the characteristic's importance will

occur more often for abilities than for opinions (Hypothesis VIII).

Source of Feedback

Typically people have some notion of their own performance or

possession of an attribute and desire to know what that means in terms

of the standing of others on the same characteristic. The source of

any feedback people might get about their opinions, abilities, or other

characteristics will have some effect on their reactions and how they

deal with that information. Aristotle noted that the speaker is a force

just as important as the receiver or the message itself (Bettinghaus,

1968). Wylie (1961) states that the source of alleged failure or de-

valuation is important. There is a difference between the experimenter

judging subjects on the basis of a standard and subjects discovering for

themselves that they cannot do a task. Argyle (1969) notes that changes

of self-image are more likely to occur if the other person is regarded

as a valid source of information. Among Pepitone's (1958) hypotheses

about status relations serving to mediate attributions of causality,

one notion is that higher status people are seen as having more valid

and competent observations and criticisms. Heider (1944) cites the

phenomenon of prestige suggestion, where the acceptance of statements

and evaluations depends on the prestige of the person to whom they are


Several studies on attitude change have shown that communicator

variables have important influences on behavior. Sherif and Sherif

(1967) note the importance of source variables in that high status in-

creases the range of assimilation for a communication. Kelman (1961)

discusses the importance of such communicator variables as credibility,

power and attractiveness. Hovland, Janis and Kelley (1963) point out

important factors influencing communication effectiveness are the com-

municator cues as to the trustworthiness, intentions and affiliation of

the source. These presumably influence the evaluation of the communi-

cator's presentation and the receiver's acceptance. Hovland et al.

(1963) hypothesize no difference between different communicators in

receiver's attention and comprehension based on credibility. Rather,

the difference seems to come from the motivation to accept the conclusion

advocated. Arnet, Davidson and Lewis (1931). Haiman (1949) and Hovland

and Weiss (1952) demonstrated a positive relationship between the

credibility of a communicator and the extent of opinion change. The

same communication was judged less fair and less justified when given

by a low-credible source, although the effect had disappeared four

weeks later (Hovland and Weiss, 1952). It seems that the effect of the

source is maximal at the time of the communication. Aronson, Turner and

Carlsmith (1963) showed that a high-credible communicator was more suc-

cessful in inducing opinion change than a mild-credible communicator.

This occurred at every point of discrepancy between subject opinion and

communication. Johnson and Steiner (1968) examined the influence of

source of evaluation on fraternity members' responses to negative in-

formation about themselves. With a low-credible source there occurred

little or no conformity, assimilation or rejection of the source as

invalid. The more-credible source led to rejection and conformity.

The authors draw attention to the need to test readjustment of the sub-

jective scale of judgment such that "goodness" is represented by a lower

rating than it was previously. They suggest that this phenomenon may

occur instead of loss of self-esteem.

Some of the attribution literature relates to the effects of

communicator status. Kelley (1967) discussed information dependence of

A on B if B can raise A's level of information to a level higher than

A can attain from alternative sources. But A must make attributions

regarding B's message and arrive at a perceived validity using the

external criteria of distinctiveness, consistency over time, consistency

over modality and consensus. Communicator factors that are particularly

relevant to attributions A might make of B's message are B's expertness,

and trustworthiness. The former reflects contact with external causal

variables relevant to the message, while the latter refers to an absence

of irrelevant causal factors in B's statements.

The above discussion makes the point that communicator devaluation

is open to the individual who does not want to accept an unfavorable

communication and wants to continue to see the self in a prior favorable

light. If individuals get some negative feedback or learn of failure

on a characteristic from another individual, they may derogate the

communicator and try to minimize the importance and validity of the


It is hypothesized that the more credible source of feedback causes

more effect on the subject's self-esteem than does a less credible

evaluator (Hypothesis IX). This follows because the more credible

evaluator's statement carries more weight and appears more likely to be

accurate, and because it is harder to devalue a more credible person.

This latter point is an additional hypothesis stemming from a cost

framework in that it is harder (more cognitively costly) to lower evalu-

ation of a highly evaluated object than a low one (Hypothesis X).

The last hypothesis concerned with the credibility of the source

of feedback is that following feedback from the more credible person,

individuals are more likely to attribute the performance to the self

following positive feedback and to the environment following negative

feedback than they are for the low-credible source (Hypothesis XI).

This follows from the fact that a more credible source's communications

are viewed as more accurate than a low-credible source's communications.

Bettinghaus (1968) states that the perceived differences in status

between source and receiver may well lead to one individual being per-

ceived as more worth listening to, more believable or more influential.


A related influence is that a more credible person is probably further

removed from the receiver in status than the less credible person. The

comparison between self and communicator may be an important under-

lying mechanism in the process of acceptance of a communicator's


Feedback Outcome

A crucial variable in considering reactions to feedback about

oneself is whether it is positive or negative. Wylie (1961) discusses

the effects of success and failure on task-relevant or global self-

esteem. Not only is a person's level of self-regard of great importance

in predicting behavior, but self-esteem can be temporarily raised or

lowered in response to experiences and feedback from others. Singer

(1966) states that in the social comparison process, one is implicitly

evaluating an opinion of oneself and one's self-esteem. Morse and

Gergen (1970) conducted research which lends support to this notion.

They based their study on the assumption that the social comparison

process is a source of instability in self-conception. Subjects were

exposed to either a very socially desirable or undesirable person ap-

plying for either the same or a different job. A dependent measure

showed that subjects exposed to the socially desirable person lowered

self-esteem while self-esteem was raised for subjects who met the un-

desirable applicant.

Argyle (1969) states that experiments on the effects of manipulated

success/failure on self-esteem generally show the expected effect of

lowered self-esteem following failure and raised self-esteem after

success. But there is more change of self-report upwards following


success than downwards after failure. Here is a manifestation of the

desire to protect and enhance the ego. Examples of studies showing the

influence of success and failure on self-ratings are Koocher (1971) and

Videbeck (1960). Koocher investigated swimming competence and per-

sonality change in adolescent boys. Development of swimming skill

resulted in the enhancement of self-concept, giving some support to

White's (1959) contention that a sense of competence is basic to the

development of self-esteem. Boys who did not increase in swimming com-

petence did not show a negative influence on their self-concept. Videbeck

found that feedback from a "speech expert" who evaluated the subject's

poetry reading resulted in the most change in self-rating on the same

scales the expert used. Less change was evident on related scales and

no change occurred for unrelated self-rating scales. Thus self-concept

change was more likely on relevant dimensions than on global self-


Several investigators failed to find evidence for such defensive

reactions to negative feedback. Regan, Gosselink, Hubsch and Ush (1975)

found no evidence for self-enhancement in their subjects. Students

were given either no feedback, praise or criticism about their own or

another student's performance and responded to the question, "How good

do you think your (her) answers were?". Actors rated themselves less

positively than observers rated them. The authors suggest the notion

of self-derogation in anticipation of evaluation to explain the results.

In addition, all subjects were females, which may be related to a similar

effect in a study (Nicholls, 1975) where females were more likely than

males to derogate themselves. In addition, Regan et al. only tapped

one possible mode of response to evaluation. Subjects may have employed

some other cognitive mechanism as a self-aggrandizing tactic. A further

possibility is that subjects did not take the situation as seriously as

is necessary to experience threat from negative feedback. Eagly and

Acksen (1971) found that subjects were more receptive to positive in-

formation about themselves than negative information when they expected

future evaluation. In the negative-information condition there was no

difference between expectancy levels. This offers some support for

Regan et al.'s notion of self-derogation in anticipation of evaluation.

Israel (1963) found a larger private acceptance of attitudes which

underrated the self than with those that over-evaluated the self. An-

other instance of failure to demonstrate self-enhancement is a study by

Howard and Berkowitz (1958) investigating reaction to one's evaluators.

The results suggest that the desire for accuracy sometimes outweighs

the desire for self-enhancement, as Festinger states. It is important

to point out that this was a role-playing study, which lessens one's

confidence in the findings.

There are two general areas of explanation for this series of

failures to demonstrate self-enhancement responses. The theoretically

more interesting possibility has to do with expectation of future evalu-

ation and the concomitant self-derogation in anticipation of evaluation.

This may constitute a limiting influence on the conditions under which

self-enhancement occurs. The other general explanation concerns method-

ological issues such as narrow sample, using only one response mode or

situation that subjects may not take seriously.

The level of aspiration studies are also relevant to reactions to

positive and negative evaluation. Lewin et al. (1944) elaborate on the

psychological feeling of success or failure and the cessation of

activities when possibilities of achieving further success are not good.

One can avoid feeling failure by switching the standard (changing the

goal line, in their terms) after the fact or by severing the relation

between performance and the self. The latter point of course refers to

attributional processes. A way to lift morale after failure is to

restructure the field so that defeat is not attributed to one's own

inferiority (Heider, 1944). Merton (1946) proposes that attribution

of causality may be a defense one is prone to use after failure. The

belief in chance enables one to preserve self-esteem following failure.

In short, one can make attributions so that self-esteem is not affected.

Weiner et al. (1972) suggest that in attempting to explain a suc-

cess or failure outcome, people assess own and other's ability level,

amount of effort, difficulty of the task and magnitude and direction of

experienced luck. The first two elements reflect personal locus of

causality while the latter two are external sources. The authors have

found that success is more likely to be attributed to personal factors,

and failure tends to be attributed to external sources. Such tactics

can be seen as ego-defensive and as manifestations of attempts at self-

enhancement. Streufert and Streufert (1969) examined the effects of

success and failure on attribution of actuality. Subjects in decision-

making teams attributed more causal effect to their own team under

success than under failure. Johnson, Feigenbaum and Weiby (1964) also

found support for attributing success (more than failure) to the self.

In Schlenker's (1975a) study there was a main effect for performance on

attribution of causality to luck, in that failure subjects stressed luck

more than did success subjects. Frieze and Weiner (1971) conducted a

simulation study in which successful subjects were more likely to

attribute performance to internal sources than were failure subjects.

Fitch (1970) found experimental support for the proposition that a

drive for self-enhancement disposes subjects to attribute success out-

comes to internal sources to a greater extent than is true of failure

outcomes. There was also partial support for the notion that self-esteem

consistency affects causal attributions, in that low self-esteem persons

who perceived failure feedback attributed more causality to internal

sources than did their high self-esteem counterparts. Fontaine's (1975)

research led him to conclude that ego-oriented motives were more im-

portant in self-attributions in a real task situation than was true

for other-attribution in a simulation study. He states that comparison

with a similar other might be one important factor increasing the

salience of ego motives.

Nicholls (1975) states that there are two bases for predicting an

individual's attributions. One is that people use information in a

logical fashion, while the other holds that attributions reflect self-

enhancement, approval-seeking and defensive motives. In research with

fourth-graders Nicholls found less evidence of bias after the test

trial than after the practice trial. In fact, failure was attributed

to poor ability more than success was attributed to good ability. This

suggests a derogatory bias rather than self-enhancement. Biased use of

information also varied with attainment value of the characteristic and

with sex of the subject. Luginbuhl, Crowe and Kahan (1975) found that

success was attributed to internal and unstable elements while failure

was attributed to stable elements. Successful subjects attributed their

performance to effort almost twice as much as to ability, while failing

subjects made attributions to ability four times as much as to lack of


effort. Another study not supporting the notion of self-enhancement

was conducted by Chaikin (1971). Subjects participated in a twelve

trial "game" with the dependent measure taken after trials one, five

and twelve. There were no differences between success and failure or

between ascending and descending feedback. The authors state that in cases

of failure subjects may see the possibility of bettering their per-

formance through persistence.

The last set of self-enhancing hypotheses to be presented here

concern the feedback variable and stem from the desire to make oneself

look good. In line with this, negative feedback tends to lower self-

esteem while positive feedback does not (Hypothesis XII). After positive

feedback subjects will give a source a higher evaluation than subjects

receiving negative feedback, who will tend to devalue the characteristic

as well (Hypotheses XIII and XIV). Continuing this attempt at self-

enhancement, a subject who has failed (gotten negative feedback) will

be more likely than a subject who has succeeded to choose a comparison

who is worse off, thus looking and feeling good in comparison (Hypoth-

esis XV). The probability of performance being attributed to the

environment is greater for negative feedback than for positive, which

will be attributed to the self (to ability and personal characteristics

and effort). This constitutes Hypothesis XVI and will be especially

true for an important ability. Finally, the lowering of self-esteem

following negative feedback is the least likely response since modes

of self-enhancement will be attempted first (Hypothesis XVII). But if

self-enhancement does not occur, self-esteem will drop.

An important part of this study, in contrast to many other experi-

ments on self-evaluation, is the measurement of several modes of


self-enhancement. A potential methodological problem for such a situa-

tion is that subjects may show an effect (work out self-enhancement)

on the first possible opportunity. It is thus important to vary the

order of measurement of dependent variables and to test for order

effects. This issue will be more fully addressed in methodology and

results sections. Another question, to be addressed in the analyses,

is the evidence for alternative use of self-enhancement responses; this

refers to the question of whether subjects will exhibit self-enhancement

on only one of the dependent measures.

Summary and Hypotheses

The basis of the previous material is that there will be some

effect on behavioral or cognitive reactions following information about

one's position on a characteristic relative to others' positions.

Specifically, in this context, the individual will exhibit some behavior

relating to enhancement or protection of the self, taking advantage of

positive feedback and compensating for negative feedback. This is

offered as a co-existent formulation to Festinger's (1954a) theory

about using comparison with others to achieve accurate appraisal of

oneself. In situations where self-esteem is more important than ac-

curacy, Festinger's notions will not apply. Rather, the process of

self-enhancement will occur. Secord (1968) lists two contexts evoking

self-evaluation: situations where one deviates from a self-standard

and at times when others give direct or implicit evaluation of the self.

In such situations the desire for self-enhancement is probably greater

than the desire for accuracy. The present methodology presents

individuals with evaluation of the self, presumably leading to self-

enhancement pressures.

Cohen (1959) states that research is needed on the modes of

self-evaluation. There are a number of aspects of human behavior that

have the potential for reflecting self-enhancement efforts. We have

chosen five behaviors, with the implicit assumption that these are the

most common types of reaction. At a general level, the hypothesis is

presented that some reactions will be manifested in at least one of the

following areas: self-esteem, evaluation of the characteristic, attri-

butions of causality, choice of social comparison other and evaluation

of the source of feedback. We have stated that subjects will show some

response on at least one of these variables, after negative feedback

especially, but which response any one subject chooses cannot be pre-

dicted with much accuracy. In observing these behaviors only, we run

the risk that reaction may occur in some other area of the individual's

behavior or cognitions. But the thesis is that effects will be most

likely seen in the aforementioned behaviors. The following hypotheses

deal more specifically with the relationship between the independent

and dependent variables.

Hypothesis I Feedback on an important characteristic is more likely

to influence self-esteem than is feedback on an un-

important characteristic, in that negative feedback on

an important characteristic lowers self-esteem while

positive feedback raises self-esteem.

Hypothesis II More differentiation between attribution of causality

to the self and environment following positive and

Hypothesis III

Hypothesis IV

Hypothesis V

Hypothesis VI

Hypothesis VII

Hypothesis VIII

Hypothesis IX

negative feedback occurs when the characteristic is

important than when it is not important.

Subjects are more likely to have a low evaluation of

an unimportant characteristic than to have a low evalu-

ation of an important one following negative feedback.

Feedback on an important characteristic more often

leads to choice of a self-enhancing comparison other

than does feedback on an unimportant characteristic.

Negative feedback on an important characteristic more

often leads to choice of someone scoring more poorly

as a comparison.

When the characteristic is an opinion rather than an

ability, subjects more often choose a similar (and

thus supporting) social comparison following negative


Ability-feedback has more effect than opinion-feedback

on self-esteem.

The differentiation between attribution of causality

to the self and environment is greater in the case of

positive and negative feedback on abilities than for


Subjects are more likely to give a low evaluation of an

opinion characteristic than an ability characteristic

following negative feedback.

A credible evaluator's feedback has more effect on

self-esteem than does feedback from a less credible


Hypothesis X

Hypothesis XI

Hypothesis XII

Hypothesis XIII

Hypothesis XIV

Hypothesis XV

Hypothesis XVI

Hypothesis XVII

Subjects are more likely to give a low evaluation of

the low credible evaluator than the more credible

evaluator following negative feedback.

Differentiation between attributing positive feedback

to self and negative feedback to environment is more

pronounced for a credible than for a less credible


In general, positive feedback tends to raise self-esteem

while negative feedback leads to lowered self-esteem.

Positive feedback leads to a higher evaluation of the

source of feedback than does negative feedback.

Positive feedback leads to a higher evaluation of the

characteristic than does negative feedback.

Following negative feedback motivation to choose a more

negative comparison is greater than after positive


Positive feedback leads to more attributions of causal-

ity for performance to the self and negative feedback

is attributed to the environment.

Lowered self-esteem is least likely as a response

following negative feedback, since modes of self-

enhancement will be attempted.



One hundred and ninety-two undergraduate students enrolled in

introductory psychology received experimental credit for participating

in the study. Three additional subjects had to be deleted from the

sample: two were suspicious and one had been told about the experiment

by a previous participant.

Design and Overview

The main design of the study was a 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 between-subjects

factorial design varying importance of the characteristic on which

subjects received feedback (high or low importance), the nature of the

particular characteristic on which subjects received feedback (ability

or opinion), source of feedback (moderate or low credible source), and

nature of the evaluation outcome (positive or negative). Twelve subjects

participated in each of the sixteen cells. Nested within the two

variables dealing with the characteristic were three different impor-

tant opinions, three different important abilities, three different

unimportant opinions and three different unimportant abilities. Two

pairs of female experimenters conducted the study, with one member of

each pair always playing the part of "project coordinator" (Experimenter


A) and the other being "interviewer" (Experimenter B). Each subject

was exposed to only one pair. Equal numbers of males and females served

in each condition.

Before presenting the procedure, an outline is given of checks

on the operationalization of the independent variables. Thus, when

reading the procedure, readers will be aware that independent variable

manipulations had been previously rated appropriately by similar college

student samples.

Independent Variable Manipulations

For nature and importance of the characteristic a sample of 55

undergraduates from introductory psychology (males and females) rated

a list of 54 opinions or 56 abilities on their importance [see Appendix

A]. Based on these ratings the final 12 characteristics were chosen so

that 6 characteristics were rated significantly more important than 6

others, but such that differences in ratings did not exist within

ability or opinion categories. The first question asked subjects to

rate "how important you think it is for someone to have an opinion on

that object (be good on that ability)." Analysis of variance showed

that there were significant differences in importance between charac-

teristics, F (11,648) = 422.19, p < .01. Scheffd's multiple comparison

tests showed that important attributes in general differed significantly

from unimportant attributes. Unimportant attributes were similar,

except that the rating for cross-word puzzles was higher than the rating

for platform shoes (p < .05). The characteristics and their mean

ratings are given in Table 1.


Table 1
Mean Ratings for Independent Variable Characteristics

Important Abilities Important Opinions

Clear thinking 5.46 Education 5.37

Reading comprehension 5.26 Law and justice 5.37

Decision-making 5.24 Self-reliance 5.26

Unimportant Abilities Unimportant Opinions

Building cupboards 2.32 Birthday parties 2.23

Flower arranging 2.37 Platform shoes 1.58

Cross-word puzzles 2.67 T-shirts in public 1.83

The second question asked raters how interested they would be in

finding out whether their expressed opinion or ability performance was

similar to that of experts in a relevant field. Again, analysis of

variance showed that significant differences existed, F (11,648) =

153.32, p < .01. Scheff6's multiple comparison procedures showed that

important characteristics differed from unimportant ones, but there

were no differences within categories.

For source of evaluation feedback, the two interviewers who gave

the feedback to the subjects were rated by nine introductory psychology

students prior to the main study as a check on the credibility manipula-

tion. Below is a description of the manipulation of credibility:

Moderate credibility. For moderate credibility the interviewer

dressed in a professional-looking pantsuit or dress, over which she

wore an unbuttoned white lab coat. On the wall above her desk was a

plaque signifying that she had received the Personality Interviewer

degree from the Institute for Assessment Research. When she first

addressed the subject in her office, she said, "Hello, I'm Miss Cohen.

I've had a lot of experience scoring and interpreting these scales and

I'm known for being quite effective at this. But I still enjoy talking

with our participants."

Low credibility. The low credible interviewer wore blue jeans and

a casual shirt, in the manner typical of undergraduate dress. On the

wall over her desk was a still life picture. When she first spoke to

the subject she said the following: "Hi, I'm Carol Cohen. I haven't

had much experience at scoring and interpreting these scales. I'm just

learning to do this interviewing, so I hope this comes out all right."

The three questions which the raters answered, and the results of

t-test comparisons are given in Table 2.

For performance feedback 18 pilot subjects (males and females)

were led through the procedure and gave ratings of the feedback they

received. They had randomly received positive or negative feedback

appropriate to their opinion or ability condition. The interviewer

gave one of the following four statements:

Positive ability: "The way you answered this scale is very similar

to the way experts in this area answered it. You did quite well com-

pared to other people who have completed this scale. Your score was


Positive opinion: "The views you expressed on this issue are very

similar to the opinions of experts in this area who completed this scale.

You did quite well compared to other people who have answered this scale.

Your score was 201."

Negative ability: "The way you answered this scale is not at all

Table 2
Manipulation Check for Credibility Variable

1. "How much faith do you put in the interviewer's ability to score and
interpret the student's scale?" (Six point scale)

Mean Standard Deviation

Low credibility 2.0 1.4
t (7) = 1.93, p < .05
Moderate credibility 3.8 1.6

2. "How experienced is the interviewer at the task?" (Six point scale)

Mean Standard Deviation

Low credibility 1.75 1.5
t (7) = 1.96, p < .05
Moderate credibility 3.20 0.5

3. "How professional was the interviewer?" (Six point scale)

Mean Standard Deviation

Low credibility 2.0 0.57
t (7) = 2.29, p < .025
Moderate credibility 3.2 0.84

similar to the way experts in this area answered it. You did not do

very well compared to other people who have completed this scale. Your

score was 141."

Negative opinion: "The views you expressed on this issue are not

at all similar to the opinions of experts in this area who completed

this scale. You did not do very well compared to other people who have

answered this scale. Your score was 141."

Subjects responded to two questions concerning the feedback they

received. The results of the analyses can be seen in Table 3.

Table 3
Manipulation Check for Feedback Variable

1. "Rate your standing anywhere from -3 to +3." (Seven point scale)

Mean Standard Deviation

Positive feedback 1.66 0.5
t (15) = 8.12, p < .001
Negative feedback -1.38 1.06

2. "What is your reaction to your feedback? Assign a number from +3
equals "good" to -3 equals "bad"."

Mean Standard Deviation

Positive feedback 2.00 0.86
t (16) = 3.53, p < .005
Negative feedback 0.22 1.17

In summarizing the manipulation checks, the analyses show that

the manipulations for the independent variables were successful in that

differences were perceived by pilot subjects. Important and unimpor-

tant characteristics differed, moderate and low credibility were seen

differently and the two feedback conditions elicited different reactions.


In six large group sessions of at least twenty people in each,

undergraduates convened for the first part of the study. The project

coordinator (Experimenter A) conducted the session, beginning with the

following introduction: "Hello, I'm the local representative for the

Institute for Assessment Research which is based in New York City.

The Institute is conducting a large nation-wide study on the assessment

of different abilities and opinions in many segments of the population.



Our local group is in charge of a study on university students. This

study involves two sessions--today I will administer the assessment

scales to you and a background information sheet. We are assessing

several abilities and opinions, but each of you will receive only one

scale, so do not be concerned if the person next to you has a different

scale. At the second session each of you will meet individually with

one of our staff who will tell you how you responded compared to other

people. This study is concerned with differences in opinions and

abilities based on background variabiles. When we evaluate your re-

sponse we make two comparisons: how you compared to people with similar

backgrounds and how you compared to a set of experts from the particular

ability or opinion field, who filled out our scales several weeks ago.

In the booklet I'm handing out to you, you'll find a cover letter ex-

plaining the project, a background information sheet and one of the

assessment scales. Please answer as completely as you can. On the

first page, please put your name and phone number so we can reach you

to schedule the second session. After you have been given feedback on

your scale response, your name will be separated from the booklet and

all later analyses will be done anonymously." Subjects then completed

their booklets. One of the twelve characteristics was thus randomly

given to each subject, making sure an equal number of males and females

received each characteristic. (See Appendix B for copies of the cover

letter, the background information sheet and the assessment scales.)

Within a week subjects were called and scheduled for a half-hour

session in the Psychology Building. When they arrived, the interviewer's

room was arranged for the appropriate credibility condition. After the

initial introduction and credibility manipulation, the interviewer

said, "I'm going to give you some information on how you performed

relative to experts who filled out this scale and compared to other

subjects. Then I have some forms for you to fill out to help us in

our research. But first your Psychology Department requires that we

get your informed consent." Subjects read the form, signed it and the

experiment continued. Subjects randomly received positive or negative

feedback appropriate to their ability or opinion condition. After this,

the interviewer said, "That's all I have on that right now. I'd like

you to complete these two forms for me." She then administered the

self-esteem measure and the attribution of causality measure (see

Appendix C). The order of administration was alternated so that some

subjects received the self-esteem measure first and others got the

attribution scale first. When the subject had completed these scales

the interviewer said, "The project coordinator wants to see you for a

few minutes, but she's late in getting here. We have copies of dif-

ferent levels of quality of responses to the scales in these folders.

Here are some people who scored above 210, here's 131-170, here's 171-

210 and here's below 130. You can look at these while I get the co-

ordinator." For each session the interviewer randomly varied the

placement of the folders and the order in which she described them.

As she stood to go to the door, she noted which folder the subject con-

sulted. As she went into the hall, the project coordinator (Experimenter

A) "just happened" to arrive at that moment. She introduced herself

and led the subject to another office. Experimenter A was blind to the

subject's condition. When seated in the other office, she said, "There

are a couple of research concerns I have about this project and I'd like

you to answer some questions that will help me. One concern has to do


with the notion of standardization. I don't know how much you know

about research, but what we strive for is to have each participant be

treated in the same way and go through the same process. This is a

little hard in this case where we have several interviewers, each of

whom sees only some of the participants. I'd like to get some idea of

how they are each conducting the sessions to see if they're pretty much

doing the same things the way they're supposed to be doing. So I have

a rating form I'd like you to fill out about the session you just had

with the interviewer. Please answer honestly and don't feel you're

putting someone's job in jeopardy because you're not. That's not how

I use this information. The other form is needed because we are thinking

of putting some new characteristics in the study. Before we do that

I'd like some idea of how people rate the characteristics. Included

on this form are some opinions and abilities we're using now as well as

the ones we hope to use in the future." Experimenter A varied the order

of administration of the Personnel Performance Sheet and the Attribute

Rating Scale. When subjects had finished, a debriefing session was

conducted and subjects were probed for suspicions. In addition, Ex-

perimenter A told them the nature of the study and asked them to maintain

silence about the study since more subjects from the psychology classes

would be participating.

Dependent Variable Measures

In order to tap several psychological processes that might be

influenced by the independent variables, measures were taken on five

general dependent variables. (See Appendix C for copies of these


1. The attribution of causality for individual performance measure

asked subjects to state percentages of their performance due to ability,

effort, task difficulty and luck. In addition, they rated each of

these four elements on a five point scale in terms of the degree to

which it was a cause of their behavior. A summary measure was calculated

for each of these two types of measures: the sum of task and luck

ratings was divided by the sum of ability and effort ratings giving an

indication of whether performance was attributed more to self or en-


2. Self-esteem was measured by the Janis-Field Feelings of Inade-

quacy Scale and the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale. Reliability and

validity data for these scales are presented in Table 4. These scales

were untitled when presented to the subject. The scores were summed

giving a total self-esteem index score.

Table 4
Reliability and Validity Data for Self-esteem Scales

Janis-Field Feelings of Inadequacy Scale Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale

Reliability Split-half .72 to .82 Test-retest .85

Interitem .30

Validity Convergent .67 to .84 Convergent .56 to .83

Discriminant .35

Predictive .24 to .27

Note: See Robinson and Shaver (1973) and Rosenberg (1965).

3. Personnel Performance Sheet included ratings of the interviewer

on 11 adjectives. In addition, subjects gave an overall rating of the

interviewer, a rating of her clarity in giving instructions and an

assessment of how good she was for the job.

4. The Attribute Rating Scale consisted of ratings of 17 char-

acteristics, including the one on which the subject had been assessed.

Four questions tapped importance to the self, importance to the general

public, extent to which a friend would refer to the characteristic in

describing the subject and how interested the subject would be in getting

feedback on her/his standing relative to others. Included as ratings of

the characteristic were three items found on the Personnel Performance

Sheet. These were ratings of the initial assessment scale on its

validity, its accuracy as a measure and its usefulness.

5. Social comparison choice was behaviorally measured by noting

which of four folders each subject looked at in order to get an idea of

how others had performed. Folders were labelled with the scores in-

cluded in them: "Below 131", "131-170", "171-210", and "Above 210".

The interviewer unobtrusively noticed which folder each subject chose

to examine.


Thirty-four dependent variables were used to test the hypotheses.

A sum of the two self-esteem scores was used as the measure of self-

esteem. Attribution ratings included four percentage ratings of

attribution to luck, the difficulty of the task (these two constitute

environmental, external elements), effort and ability (these two con-

stitute internal, self elements), and four seven-point scale ratings

of the same elements in terms of their influence on performance. In

addition, two composite scores were formed by adding the two environ-

mental elements and dividing by the sum of the two self elements,

separately for the two types of ratings (percentage and scale). Four-

teen ratings of the interviewer served as evaluation of the source of

feedback and there were three items rating the original assessment

scale. Four questions addressed evaluation of the particular charac-

teristic. Two social comparison choice measures were included. The

first categorized each subject's choice as above, the same as or below

their own score, while the second indicated whether they chose to look

at a score above 201, between 171 and 201, between 131 and 171 or below


Kolmogorov-Smirnoff tests of normality were conducted for each of

the dependent variables. All but seven violated normality in terms of

skewness, kurtosis or both at a statistically significant level. Con-

sequently a multivariate analysis of variance could not be used as had



originally been planned. Multivariate analyses were necessary due to

the large number of dependent variables. In most cases, each hypothesis

concerned predictions about one or two independent variables and more

than one dependent variable. Such a large number of statistical tests

leads to altered probabilities of Type I and Type II errors. It is

therefore advisable to compute a multivariate statistic before pro-

ceeding to consideration of univariate analyses.

Because of these violations of distribution assumptions, the Sarle

Distribution-Free Multivariate Linear Hypothesis computer program was

used. This package performs a multivariate analysis on a set of vari-

ables by assigning ranks and testing to see if treatments differ in

their mean ranks. (However, it is important to note that we report

mean ratings not mean ranks for each condition in the relevant tables.)

In testing the hypotheses a significance level of .05 was used. Multi-

variate analyses and appropriate univariate analyses are given in the

form of chi-square tests. Pairwise-comparisons testing for between-cell

differences are provided by standard scores. In this study, significant

pairwise-comparisons are those with Z-values > 1.96. A multivariate

analysis including all four independent variables (blocking on sex of

subject and on experimenter team) at once was not possible due to ex-

cessive storage requirements beyond the computer's capacity. Since a

majority of the hypotheses concern an interaction between the feedback

variable and one of the other independent variables, three analyses

paired the feedback variable with nature of the characteristic, impor-

tance of the characteristic and credibility of the source of feedback.

In addition, feedback was tested by itself with the other three inde-

pendent variables (as well as sex of subject and experimenter team) as


blocks. Three of these analyses were significant: credibility/feed-

back, x2 (102) = 140.8 p < .01, nature of the characteristic/feedback,
x (102) = 175.69, p < .0001 and importance of the characteristic/

feedback, x2 (102) = 232.8, p < .0001. The analysis for feedback was

not significant. Results appropriate to each hypothesis will be pre-

sented in order.

Hypothesis I stated that feedback on an important characteristic

has more influence on self-esteem than does feedback on an unimportant

characteristic. This predicts an interaction between feedback and

characteristic importance such that there is no difference between the

two unimportant conditions on self-esteem, but there is a difference

between the two important-characteristic conditions. The chi-square

test was not significant; Hypothesis I was not supported.

Hypothesis II stated that more differentiation between attribution

of causality to the self and environment following positive and negative

feedback occurs when the characteristic is important than when it is

unimportant. Of the ten univariate interactions, three reached statis-

tical significance: luck rating, x2 (3) = 8.09, p < .045, luck per-
2 2
centage, x2 (3) = 8.87, p < .05, and effort percentage, x (3) = 12.86,

p < .001. Mean ratings (not mean ranks) can be seen in Table 5. For

all three analyses important-characteristic/positive-feedback differed

from the two unimportant conditions, receiving more attribution to

effort percentage and less to luck. In addition, for effort percentage,

important-characteristic/negative feedback differed from the two unim-

portant conditions. The predicted relationship of a difference between

the two important conditions but not between the two unimportant con-

ditions did not occur; Hypothesis II was not supported.


Table 5
Mean Ratings of Attribution Items for Hypothesis II

Condition Attribution Items

Luck Luck Percentage Effort Percentage

Positive 1.5ab 9.6cd 27.9ef

Positive 2.0a 16.5c 21.2eg

Negative 1.6 11.1 29.8gh

Negative 2.3b 20.5d 21.5fh

Note: Means with like subscripts are significantly different.

Hypothesis III predicted that subjects would be more likely to

change their evaluation of an unimportant characteristic than of an

important one. The importance-of-the-characteristic by feedback test

was significant for all four items: "importance to me", x2 (3) = 133.3,

p < .0001, "importance to the general public", x2 (3) = 99.0, p < .0001,

"a friend would say I have this characteristic", x2 (3) = 124.1,

p < .0001, and "I would be interested in learning where I stood on this

characteristic", x2 (3) = 73.9, p < .0001. In addition, the three

items rating the assessment scale for each subject's characteristic

reached significance: "valid", x2 (3) = 10.6, p < .01, "accurate",

2 (3) = 18.3, p < .0005, and "useful", x2 (3) = 12.4, p < .006. As

can be seen in Table 6 there was a main effect for importance of the

characteristic on the first 4 items with important characteristics

being rated higher on all items. For each of the last three items the


0~ o~


0 0 0
1 N O


0 0
m Q

0 0



c 4O c3 40 0 )
*0 c H 3-HM 0u 3c )3
0 0) >a.3) > z H i l
u 0 3O E3 C 0
CL, 91 -Z Z


m ,



1-4 L





two important conditions differed from the unimportant-characteristic/

negative-feedback condition with the important characteristics re-

ceiving higher ratings. For "accurate" the important-characteristic/

negative-feedback condition differed from the important-characteristic/

positive-feedback condition and for "useful" the important-character-

istic/positive-feedback condition differed from the unimportant-char-

acteristic/negative-feedback condition. The predicted effect of a

significant difference between the two unimportant conditions but not

between the two important conditions did not occur. For "accurate" the

opposite effect occurred. Hypothesis III was not supported.

The next hypothesis was concerned with whether feedback on an

important characteristic more often leads to choice of a self-enhancing

social comparison than does feedback on an unimportant characteristic

(Hypothesis IV). The interaction was not significant for the first

social comparison measure, but it was for the second, x2 (3) = 8.0,

p < .05. Table 7 shows that the two positive-feedback conditions dif-

fered from the unimportant-characteristic/negative-feedback condition.

Table 7
Mean Ratings for Second Social Comparison Measure (Hypothesis IV)

Condition Mean Rating

Important/Positive 3.0a

Unimportant/Positive 2.8b

Important/Negative 2.6

Unimportant/Negative 2.4ab

Note: Means with like subscripts significantly differed.

This is not the predicted effect of a difference between the two impor-

tant-characteristic conditions but not between the two unimportant-

characteristic conditions. Hypothesis IV was not supported.

Turning from importance of the characteristic to nature of the

characteristic (opinion or ability) the next hypothesis stated that

feedback on opinions would more likely lead to choice of a similar social

comparison under negative feedback than would feedback on abilities

(Hypothesis V). This analysis was significant only for the second social

comparison measure, x (3) = 9.9, p < .02. As can be seen in Table 8,

the two negative-feedback conditions differed from the ability/positive-

feedback condition. This is the opposite of the prediction; Hypothesis

V was not supported.

Table 8
Mean Ratings for Second Social Comparison Measure (Hypothesis V)

Condition Mean Rating

Ability/Positive 3.lab

Opinion/Positive 2.7

Ability/Negative 2.5a

Opinion/Negative 2.4b

Note: Means with like subscripts are significantly different. A
higher number signifies choice of a comparison below the subject.

Hypothesis VI was not supported: the nature of the characteristic/

feedback analysis was not significant for self-esteem as had been pre-


The next hypothesis was that differentiation between attribution

of causality to self and environment is greater in the case of feedback

on abilities than opinions (Hypothesis VII). Five of the ten dependent

variables were significantly influenced by nature of the characteristic

and feedback. All environmental elements were significant, as was
ability percentage [task rating, x (3) = 32.7, p < .0001, task per-

centage, x2 (3) = 37.5, p < .0001, luck rating, x2 (3) = 9.5, p < .05,
2 2
luck percentage, x (3) = 12.3, p < .01 and ability percentage, x (3) =

9.4, p < .05]. For task rating positive-feedback/ability differed from

negative-feedback/opinion, and both opinion conditions differed from

negative-feedback/ability. For ability percentage the opposite effect

from that predicted occurred in that there was a difference between the

two opinion conditions but not between the two ability conditions. For

luck rating the predicted effect was found in that the two ability

conditions differed but the two opinion conditions did not. In this

instance positive-feedback/ability was attributed less to luck than was

negative-feedback/ability. In addition, positive-feedback/opinion

differed from negative-feedback/ability. For luck percentage positive-

feedback/ability differed from positive feedback/opinion and negative-

feedback/ability differed from the two opinion conditions. Thus

Hypothesis VII was supported for the luck rating item (see Table 9).

Hypotehsis VIII stated that subjects would be more likely to de-

value opinions that abilities following feedback. Only one of the four

items was significant: "friend would say I have this characteristic",
x (3) = 10.8, p < .01. Table 10 shows that ability/negative-feedback

differed from ability/positive-feedback and from opinion/negative-

feedback. In addition, two of the three ratings of the assessment

scale reached statistical significance: "valid", x2 (3) = 8.7, p < .05,


Table 9
Mean Ratings for Attribution Items (Hypothesis VII)






Note: Means






with like

Attribution Items

Task % Luck Luck %

18.75de 2.1h 16.83j

10.8df 1.41 9.3jk

26.4fg 3.2hi 19.2km

9.7eg 1.6 12.5m

subscripts are significantly different.

Table 10
Mean Ratings for Hypothesis VIII

Condition Evaluation Items

Friend says I have Valid Accurate

Ability 2.5a 4.0c 4.leg

Opinion 2.4 4.1d 4.1fh

Ability 2.lab 3.4cd 3.2ef

Opinion 2.6b 3.4 3.3gh

Note: Means with like subscripts are significantly different.

Ability %






and "accurate", x2 (3) = 13.8, p < .005. On both items ability/negative-

feedback differed from the two positive-feedback conditions, so this

was the opposite of the predicted effect. For "accurate" ability/

positive-feedback differed from opinion/negative-feedback and the two

opinion conditions differed from each other. There was never a case

where the two opinion conditions differed and the two ability conditions

did not, so Hypothesis VIII was not supported.

The remaining hypotheses deal with the credibility of the source

and the feedback received. It was predicted that feedback from a

credible source would have more effect on self-esteem than would feed-

back from a less credible source (Hypothesis IX). The statistic did

not approach significance, and this hypothesis was thus not supported.

Hypothesis X stated that a less credible source of feedback would

more likely be devalued by subjects than would a more credible source

after failure feedback. Four of the analyses between the credibility/

feedback effect and the fourteen dependent variables were significant:

'how clear was the interviewer in giving you instructions and in ex-

plaining results?", x2 (3) = 9.9, p < .05, "maturity", x2 (3) = 10.8,

p < .05, "experience", x2 (3) = 35.99, p < .0001, and "trust", x2 (3) =

9.97, p < .05. Table 11 shows the differences between means. In the

first item credible-source/negative-feedback differed from the other

three conditions, while credible-source/positive-feedback differed from

all others on the "maturity" item. There was a main effect for source

credibility on the "experience" item and for "trust" credible-source/

negative differed from the two low-credibility conditions. None of the

effects exhibited the predicted difference between the two low-credible-

source conditions with no difference between the credible-source condi-

tions; Hypothesis X was not supported.


Table 11
Mean Ratings for Evaluation of Source (Hypothesis X)

Condition Evaluation Items

Clear in
instructions Mature Experienced Trustworthiness

Positive 5.3a 5.0def 4.4gh 4.3

Negative 4.6abc 4.3d 4.4ij 3.9km

Positive 5.4b 4.3e 3.0gi 4.4k

Negative 5.3c 4.4f 3.0hj 4.5m

Note: Means with like subscripts are significantly different.

Hypothesis XI predicted that differential attribution of positive

feedback to self and negative feedback to environment would be more

likely for a high credible source of feedback than for a low credible

source. The analysis was not significant for any of the 10 attribution

variables; Hypothesis XI was not supported.

The overall multivariate analysis with feedback as the independent

variable did not reach significance, which precluded consulting the

appropriate univariate analyses for Hypotheses XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI

and XVII. Therefore none of these hypotheses was supported.

Three separate nonparametric multivariate analyses with order,

version of the characteristic and sex of subject each as independent

variable showed no influence of these variables on subject responses.

It did not make a difference what order subjects completed the depen-

dent measure forms, not did the 12 versions of the 4 cells formed by


the nature-of-the-characteristic/importance-of-the-characteristic

interaction differentially affect behavior within cells. In addition,

males and females did not show different behavior in this study.

However, the analysis for experimenter team showed that experimenter
team did significantly influence subject behavior, x (34) = 69.54,

p < .0001. Seven of the evaluations of the experimenter yielded sig-

nificantly different ratings for the two interviewers. In all instances

one interviewer was rated more negatively than the other. The variables

that differentiated were: "warmth", x2(1) = 26.6, p < .0001, "sensi-

tivity", x2 (1) = 12.93, p < .0005, "openness", x2 (1) = 6.76, p < .01,

"personableness", x2 (1) = 10.46, p < .005, "how did the interviewer

conduct the session", x2 (1) = 8.7, p < .005, "interviewer's clarity

in giving instructions and in explaining results", x2 (1) = 4.95, p < .05

and "is the interviewer a good person for the job", x2 (1) = 18.55,

p < .0001. In addition, the two social comparison measures were sig-
nificantly different for the two interviewers, first measure, x (1) =

16.1, p < .0001, and second measure, x (1) = 4.0, p < .05. This dif-

ference is partly due to the fact that one interviewer had more people

not make a social comparison choice. Experimenter differences thus

affected subjects responses on one variable administered in the inter-

viewer's presence and on some of the items specifically rating her.

Experimenter differences thus appear to be due to the two interviewers

and not due to the other member of each team. Also, experimenter

differences were not very widespread in influencing subject behavior.

The next set of analyses addressed the issue of the presence of

multiple response modes. In essence subjects had four general self-

enhancement variables provided to them, and a measure of self-esteem.

Analyses have showed that order of presentation had no effect on the

dependent measures. Another question investigated simultaneous versus

alternative use of responses, and asked whether subjects were more

likely to use one response rather than another, or if they used one

were they less likely to use any other. Previous research in other

areas suggests ways to address this question. Pepitone and Wilpizeski

(1960) computed correlations among responses under each condition to

see if responses produced by experimental conditions were related to

each other within the same individual. Steiner and Rogers (1963) stated

that if there are low or negative correlations between response vari-

ables, this is an indication of use of alternative measures. Correla-

tion coefficients were computed between dependent measures for positive

feedback, negative feedback, important characteristic, unimportant

characteristic, abilities, opinions, high credibility and low credi-

bility. There are correlations between 34 dependent variables for each

of these analyses. For each analysis a count was taken of the number

of positive significant correlations between separate dependent measures.

That is, we did not include correlations between related dependent

measures such as the 14 ratings of the source of feedback or between the

10 attribution scores. There are a total of 830 such correlations

between separate dependent measures. Contingency tables were constructed

between pairs of an independent variable and the number of significant-

positive and insignificant-and-significant-negative correlations.

Chi-square tests were then computed. Results of such an analysis must

be viewed with considerable caution given the questionable validity of

this particular set of tests. Feedback, x2 (1) = 20.26, p < .005 and

nature of the characteristic, x2 (1) = 7.95, p < .005 were significant

while the other two analyses were not. For these two independent

variables there was some indication of use of alternative response

measures, specifically under negative feedback conditions and for

opinion characteristics (see Table 12).

Steiner and Rogers (1963) used another analysis in an attempt to

address the question of use of alternative responses. Subject ranks on

one response were compared with the sum of their ranks on the other

responses. This was done in turn for each dependent measure compared

to the sum of all others. A similar analysis was conducted on the

present data, but because it would have been too cumbersome to use all

34 dependent variables, a representative for each of the five major

dependent measures (social comparison, evaluation of the characteristic,

evaluation of the source of feedback, self-esteem and attribution of

causality) was used. The first social comparison measure was used

because it is the more valid of the two measures, and the sum of the

self-esteem scored constituted the self-esteem measure. For evaluation

of the source 2 items with the highest correlations with all others

were summed and used (competent and sensitive). "Importance to me"

correlated best with the items evaluating the characteristic so it was

chosen and the composite attribution scale rating was chosen for the

same reason. After getting the ranks, subjects were dichotomized at

the median on each single variable and also on the sum of all others.

A chi-square test was conducted to determine if people who are above

the median on one measure are below the median on the sum of the other

measures, and vice versa. No chi-square test reached significance,

which means that subjects were not more likely to be below the median

on the sum of the ranks of four measures if they were above the median


Table 12
Correlations > .36 by Condition and Related Contingency Tables

Condition Items Condition

Ability Clear & Valid .46 Opinion

Clear & Useful .37

Good for job & Valid .37

Insight & Valid .38

Intelligence & Valid .42
Trust & Valid .44

Personableness &
Valid .37

Open & Valid .42

Trust & Friend .38

Trust & Interested Negative
in score .40

Positive Clear & Valid .37

Trust & Accurate .43

Trust & Valid .40

Credible Clear & Valid .42

Clear & Useful .42

Clarity & Valid .42 Low Cred-
Clarity & Accurate .40

Intelligence & Valid .38

Intelligence & Accurate

Intelligence & Useful .39

Trust & Accurate .37


Clarity & Valid .46

Clarity & Accurate .37

Clarity & Useful .40

Useful & Interested in
score .51

Intelligence & Valid .40

Intelligence & Useful .40

Valid & Interested in
score .37

Useful & Interested in
score .40

Clear & Valid .38

Clarity & Valid .41

Valid & Interested in
score .44

Useful & Important to
me .43

Useful & Interested in
score .47

Open & Valid .42

Personableness & Valid .37

Useful & Important to
me .41

Useful & Interested in
score .47


Table 12 (Continued)
Contingency Tables

S = Significant positive

N = Not significant, and


Positive 140 690


significant negative






78 752


Credible 134 696

Low cred-

114 716

Unimportant 121 709

on the fifth measure (see Table 13 for the contingency tables). This

finding provides no evidence of alternative use of response measures.

103 727




Table 13
Contingency Tables for Median Ranks

Social Comparison

on Sum

Above on single 53

Below on single 38

Blank 5


Above Below

Above on single 51 44

Below on single 45 52

Characteristic Evaluation

Above Below

Above on single 50 55

Below on single 45 40


1 1

on Sum




Source Evaluation

Above Below

Above on single 47 41

Below on single 49 55





on single

on single









The central foci of this chapter are discussions of the nature

of the support for self-enhancement theory and social comparison theory.

Then we offer some interpretation of the results and attempt to explain

why the hypotheses in general were not supported.

The first point relevant to self-enhancement theory is that none

of the hypotheses concerned with self-esteem were supported, nor in

fact were there any influences on self-esteem. This could mean at

least two things. First, if self-enhancement had been successfully

achieved then self-esteem would show no effect. This is related to

Hypothesis XVII and stems from the notion that self-enhancement responses

are preferable in an evaluation situation to loss of self-esteem. Given

the lack of support for almost all self-enhancement hypotheses this

notion is unlikely. The second possible reason for no self-esteem

effects is that the feedback variable may have had no effect, or negative

feedback was not enough of a threat to self-concept and thus did not

effect self-esteem. The manipulation check on the feedback variable

suggests that it is unlikely that positive and negative feedback were

not perceived differently. There were significant differences between

pilot subjects' reactions to the two forms of feedback. Perhaps this

difference was not strong enough to carry through into subjects' re-

actions to the feedback. The next place to look is the set of results

relating to evaluation. How did positive and negative feedback


influence subjects? The insignificant multivariate analysis for feed-

back shows that there was no main effect due to that variable. In the

paired-comparison test of the two-factor analyses there were a few,

though not many, influences of feedback on the dependent variables.

Feedback affected social comparison in one case where positive and

negative ability conditions had different means, with positive subjects

more likely to choose a folder with a low number. This effect shows

some self-enhancement attempt, though it is opposite of the prediction

of an effect on opinions but not on abilities.

Turning to attributions of causality, we see that there were

several instances where feedback had effects. Positive feedback on

important and unimportant characteristics had different effects on

ratings of luck, luck percentage, and effort percentage, while negative

feedback only affected unimportant versus characteristics on effort

percentage. This does not suggest self-enhancement; one would expect

negative feedback on an important characteristic to lead to defensive

responses and it did not.

Looking at feedback and the nature of the characteristic, the

clearest effect was on ratings of luck and ability percentage. In the

former, the self-enhancement hypothesis was supported in that positive

and negative feedback on abilities, but not on opinions, significantly

influenced attributions to luck. For ability percentage the opposite

effect occurred, but this merely shows self-enhancing attributions on

opinions rather than abilities. However, these two instances out of

ten possible attribution measures with several interactions is not

overwhelming evidence.

On evaluation of the characteristic, negative feedback on important


and unimportant characteristics differentially affected ratings of

validity, accuracy and usefulness of the scale, with unimportant

characteristics receiving a lower rating. That unimportant-character-

istic/positive-feedback did not receive lower ratings may be due to the

phenomenon of raising evaluation of an attribute at which one succeeds.

Negative and positive feedback on important characteristic led to dif-

ferent ratings on accuracy, but this was opposite of the prediction of

a difference for feedback on unimportant and not important character-

istics. The underlying assumption is that it is harder to re-evaluate

important characteristics, but perhaps it is more crucial to re-evaluate

important characteristics after negative feedback than to re-evaluate

unimportant ones after success. This reflects a saving-oneself-from-

implications-of-failure-on-important-characteristics, rather than

capitalization-on-success-on-unimportant-characteristics phenomenon.

The other evaluation-of-the-characteristic results suggest that ability

and opinion operate opposite of their hypothesized effects in that in

two cases positive and negative ability were different but not opinions.

For the accuracy rating both opinions and abilities had different re-

actions to positive and negative feedback. Thus feedback does influence

evaluation of the characteristic.

Finally, there is limited evidence for feedback affecting evalua-

tion of the source. On two items there was a difference between the

two credibility conditions but not between the two low-credibility

conditions. This parallels the case of the greater effect of feedback

on important but not unimportant characteristics in evaluation of the

characteristic. Here again, though it was hypothesized to be harder to

devalue high credible persons, it is more important to do so after

negative feedback than to re-evaluate a low credible person after

positive feedback.

Thus there are some cases where feedback led to self-enhancing

responses in that subjects behaved ego-defensively. Most of these

effects were opposite to the present hypotheses, but nevertheless they

do show effects of feedback and are examples of attempts at self-


These self-enhancement instances show some other important things.

First of all, the relationship between perception of feedback on abili-

ties versus opinions is different than hypothesized. Ability feedback

seems to be more important to subjects than opinion feedback. This may

reflect greater concern for standing on abilities than for standing on

opinions. It is also possible that in this particular setting the

ability feedback was more believable than the opinion feedback. How-

ever, in choosing a folder of scales to consult, an analysis of the

nature of the characteristic alone showed that ability and opinion

characteristics did significantly differ, with subjects in ability con-

ditions being less likely to choose to see scores below their own. The

unidirectional drive upwards may lead subjects to the desire to see what

a better performance is like.

Another important point is that some of the results did not support

assumptions that it is cognitively harder to re-evaluate important

characteristics and credible persons. Though these assumptions may

be true, other factors such as the need to minimize failure, may be

more important.

We now turn to the evidence relating to Festinger's (1954a) social

comparison theory. Since several response modes were included in this

study, only one of which (social comparison choice) is included in his

theory, only a small part of the results are pertinent. Furthermore,

on the first (and more valid) social comparison measure there was no

evidence for the hypothesized effects. Results on the second, objective

choice measure showed that subjects in positive-feedback conditions

were more likely to choose an objectively high score (not necessarily

higher than their own) than were subjects in the unimportant-charac-

teristic/negative-feedback condition. And ability subjects receiving

positive feedback were more likely to choose an objectively high score

(not necessarily higher than their own score) than were subjects in the

two negative-feedback conditions. This is not evidence for choice of

a similar comparison. But these results may serve as an example of the

desire for social consensus: being unsure, those subjects in opinion

conditions were more likely to look at a score similar to or below their

own, perhaps in an attempt to gain some validation for their own posi-

tion. And subjects in ability conditions may have wanted to see what a

good performance was like.

Turning to more indirect issues, there are other results that bear

on some of Festinger's ideas. The ability and opinion differences

cited above can be seen as support for the unidirectional drive upward

for abilities. Furthermore, negative feedback on abilities seemed to

be of more import to subjects than feedback on opinions. This point

shows that people are not always concerned with opinions. Though

Festinger never states it in his hypotheses, presumably some opinions

are of greater concern to people than others. The importance variable

did not have much influence on social comparison however.

Given that there was evidence for ego-defensive responses the

present study has shown that subjects are not always interested in

accepting accurate appraisal of themselves. This is not to imply that

there is no drive for accuracy (in some circumstances), but it shows

that self-enhancement is another possible response rather than accurate


However, the evidence for self-enhancement was limited, and fur-

thermore only one of the proposed hypotheses received any support. There

are a number of possible explanations for this. It may be that the

independent variables do not operate as hypothesized. There was some

suggestion that present assumptions about the effects of source credi-

bility and ability or opinion importance on the cognitive mechanism

of devaluation were not accurate. This explains some of the failure

to support the experimental hypotheses. In addition there is a series

of possibilities for which there is not much data. This relates to

methodological problems in that subjects may not have perceived the

situation as the experimenter presumed. As previously noted (page 25)

methodological issues may be used to explain failures in other studies

of self-enhancement effects. Symonds (1951, pp. 96-97) notes that

situations apparently similar to an outside observer
may not offer the same intensity of threat of failure
to a given individual. It all depends on how he
values that activity and whether his performance in
it is interpreted by him as important.

Though the pilot test showed that the importance variable was manipulated

successfully, the total situation as experienced by the subject may

not have been significant. This is an age-old problem in experimenta-

tion with humans, especially in reactive settings such as the psychology

laboratory. The experimenter often assumes that the subject in the

laboratory views the situation as the experimenter constructed it.

In fact, the situation is often seen very differently by the subjects

and they may not place the same degree of importance and worth to the

scene as the experimenter does. Receiving feedback on one's perfor-

mance on ability and opinion scales as part of a national research

project may not matter much to students, especially if the nature of

the feedback is somewhat vague and nebulous. In fact, several students

mentioned wanting to see their scale to note which responses had led

to the evaluation. In addition, it is possible that subjects did not

believe the cover story, although we have no evidence bearing on this.

Symonds (1951, p. 176) again makes a valid point concerning this


It is difficult to think of the problem of level of
aspiration wholly from the vantage point of the
experimental studies...because these studies are
defined in terms of the limitations of the experi-
mental laboratory while aspirations penetrate every
corner of living.

This also applied to the process of self-enhancement. For certain

variables and certain realms of experience, the experimental laboratory

may not offer the opportunity to realistically test given principles

of human behavior. For areas as sensitive as self-concept and responses

to evaluation of oneself, the laboratory presents some drawbacks in

being removed from individuals' daily lives and probably not being

perceived as the experimenter assumes it is being perceived. This is

not to say that self-evaluation cannot be studied in the laboratory;

clearly many good investigations have been conducted in such settings.

But experimenters must be particularly aware of the attendant difficulties

in constructing the situation and assuming a certain reaction on the

individual's part.

The present study attempted to preclude some methodological

problems. First, the pilot testing of manipulations prior to experi-

mentation tested for operational differences in independent variables.

Also we included both sexes and more than one set of experimenters in

an attempt to increase generalizability and test for differences. In

the present analyses it was possible to block on both these variables,

and see the effects over and above unintended effects of experimenters

and sex of subject. This notion applied as well to multiple versions

of independent variables, such as the use of 12 characteristics to

represent the cells of the importance and nature of the characteristic

interaction. The fact that there was no effect due to the different

characteristics in the same cell increases confidence that the effects

were not due to a particular operationalization, as may often be the

case in research that does not include multiple representation.

In addition to the point that both sexes, more than one set of

experimenters and multiple versions of independent variables be used

in future, investigators in this area must be particularly careful about

the setting used. It is important for the demonstration of self-

enhancing behaviors that subjects take the situation seriously and

feel a real threat to self-esteem in the negative-feedback conditions.

Perhaps use of existent situations will promote this. For instance,

rather than setting up a cover story for an experiment, a researcher

might use the classroom situation in order to test reactions to feed-

back. The increase in mundane and experimental realism raises questions

about the ethics of such a study and it would be particularly incumbent


on such a researcher that she or he safeguard subject feelings and

avoid long-term negative effects. But within ethical limits such

"natural" situations offer promise in the study of self-enhancement.



Rating Scales

1. For the following list of objects which people might have an opinion
about, please rate how important you think it is for someone to
have an opinion on that object by placing the appropriate number
in the first blank.
1 = Very unimportant 4 = Somewhat important
2 = Unimportant 5 = Important
3 = Somewhat unimportant 6 = Very important

Politics //
Dating _//
Economics //
Religion //
Child-rearing //
Probation officers //
Suicide //
Military //
Evolution //
Physical fitness_ //
Divorce /__
Education //
Farming //__
Campaign regulations //
Academic freedom //
Birth control //
University of Fla. //
Sex education //
Mental institutions //
Socialized medicine //
Censorship //_
Union strikes //
Capital punishment //-
Welfare //
Death //
Justice //
Feminism //

Communism //
Birthday parties //
Prostitution //
Platform shoes //
Malpractice insurance //
Team competition //
Disabled people //
Ethnic groups //
Teaching as a career //
China dishes //
House pets //
Antique cars //
Self-reliance //
Patriotism //
Gambling_ //
Radial tires //
Sociologists //
Conservation //
Rotary engines //
Pollution control //
Food stamps //
Government //
Television violence //
Plants //
Cleanliness //_
Public television //
Wearing t-shirts in public //

2. Now go back over the list and in the second blank rate how interested
you would be in finding out if your opinion on the issue was similar
to that of experts who knew a lot about the issue.
A = Very uninterested D = Somewhat interested
B = Uninterested E = Interested
C = Somewhat uninterested F = Very interested

Rating Scales

1. For the following list of abilities please rate how important it is

for you to be good by placing
1 = Very unimportant
2 = Unimportant
3 = Somewhat unimportant

Social skills //
Verbal ability //
Logic //
Make analogies //
Change flat tire //
Physical defense //
Scholarship //
Resist temptation //
Organization //
Persistance //
Athletics //
Memorization //
Painting_ //
Clear thinking_ //
Persuading others //
Reading comprehension //
Manual dexterity__//
Perceptual tasks //
Crossword puzzles //
Social interaction //
Music composition //
Musical playing //
Public speaking_ //

the appropriate number in the first

4 = Somewhat important
5 = Important
6 = Very important

Defending beliefs //
Doing laundry //
Driving a car //
Typing fast //
Negotiating traffic //
Arranging flowers //
Building cupboards //
Designing buildings //
Solving interpersonal problems //
Making others feel at ease //
Having a good party_ //
Balancing a checkbook //
Tuning a car //
Sewing clothes //
Doing well under pressure //
Standing up for your rights //
Fine tuning a color TV //
Pursuit rotor ability //
Fantasizing_ //
Decision-making //
Holding your liquor //

2. Now go back over the list and in the second blank rate how interested
you would be in finding out where you placed on a measure of each
A = Very uninterested D = Somewhat interested
B = Uninterested E = Interested
C = Somewhat uninterested F = Very interested


Cover letter, background information sheet and
the twelve assessment scales


Institute for Assessment Research

Curtis Foundation Academic Year
New York, New York 10022 1975-1976

Dear Participant,

You are taking part in a large nation-wide study being conducted

by the Institute for Assessment Research, a department under the aus-

pices of the Curtis Foundation. Our project involves a number of

different research questions, such as:

1. How well can we use demographic data to predict performance
on various ability and opinion assessment procedures?
2. How do various segments of the population differ in their
performance on our scales?
3. What assessment procedures are the most practical for
widespread use?
4. How useful are assessment procedures for the various organiza-
tions and institutions in our society?

These are only a few of the topics we are studying over a period of

several years. I personally would like to thank you for your part in

this research. It is through the cooperation and honest responses of

people like you that we can answer important questions about human


Thank-you again for your part in this project.

With warm regards,

D.W. Bates
National Executive Director


Student Form B

Background Information

Please answer the following questions as best you can. This informa-
tion is important to use in the research project. The forms you fill
out will be anonymous, except for the first phase when you meet
individually with one of our interviewers. For that purpose, please
make sure your name is on the first page of this booklet. That page
will be omitted when we conduct the analyses.

1. Sex: Male Female

2. Age:

3. Date of Birth:

4. Nationality:

5. Grade Level: Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior Graduate Student

6. Course major (if declared):

7. Preference for Course Major (if undeclared):

8. College or University you attend:

9. State of your legal Residence:

10. Place of Birth:

11. Religion:

12. Socio-economic Status:

13. Parents' Occupation: Father:


14. Political Affiliation or Preference:

15. Marital Status: Single Married Divorced Separated Widowed

Now turn the page and you will find an assessment scale for one of the
attributes included in our study. Please answer the questions as best
you can. Sometime in the future you will be scheduled to meet with one
of our interviewers who will inform you of your placement on the scale
you complete.

Please make sure your phone number is near your name on the from page so
that you can be contacted for the individual session.
Thank-you for your cooperation in this project.


Reading Comprehension

Read the paragraphs below and answer the questions as best you can.
1. Advertising has changed remarkably in recent years. Its methods used
to be quite simple and crude as compared with the highly organized
departments and carefully planned advertising campaigns which fea-
ture modern business. For example, I remember the leading merchant
in a little town out West. His store stood on the town's busiest
corner, where his 3 sons helped him sell drygoods. Every Saturday
noon in winter he used to get up on the roof of his store and throw
a new overcoat into the street. The crowd scrambled for it. That
was advertising in those days. Incidentally, one of his sons was
supposed to be quick enough to grab the coat and rush it back to the
shelves to be thrown down again the next Saturday. It was a bad day
for the boys if they let an outsider get away with that decoy coat!
I. The western merchant is portrayed as (1) opposed to advertising,
(2) a miserly money-grabber, (3) a typical advertiser of his day, (4) a
man with modern business ideas, (5) a harsh father
II. Indicate whether these statements are True (+), False (-), or
unrelated (0)
1. Advertising methods have changed considerably.
2. Modern advertising is highly organized.
3. The western merchant used modern advertising methods.
4. The merchant gave away a coat each Saturday in the year.
5. Giving away merchandise is not good advertising.
6. One of the merchant's sons tried to recover the coat.

2. "I have considered the structure of all volant animals, and find the
folding continuity of the bat's wings the most easily accommodated
to the human form. Upon this model I shall begin my task tomorrow,
and in a year expect to tower into the air beyond the malice or pur-
suit of man. But I will work only on this condition, that the art
shall not be divulged, and that you shall not require me to make
wings for any but ourselves."
"Why," said Rasselas, "should you envy others so great an
advantage? All skill ought to be exerted for the universal good;
every man has owed much to others, and ought to repay the kindness
he has received."
"If men were all virtuous," returned the artist, "I should with
great alacrity teach them all to fly. But what would be the security
of the good, if the bad could at pleasure invade them from the sky?
Against an army sailing through the clouds neither wall nor mountains
nor seas could afford any security. A flight of northern savages
might hover in the wind, and light at once with irresistible violence
upon the capital of a fruitful region that was rolling under them."
1. The author of the passage expresses a philosophy which: (a) is
currently applicable, (b) expresses optimism, (c) was valid only in his
day, (d) reminds one of a military strategist, (e) is similar to existen-
2. In this selection the author is using the literary device of (a) ono-
matopoeia, (b) flashback, (c) symbolism, (d) alliteration, (e) irony.

3. Worldwide peace, according to the passage, could come about by (a)
arming for defense, (b) eliminating evil tendencies, (c) resorting to
strategem, (d) establishing firm controls, (e) letting intellectuals


4. The attitude of the person giving his point of view is one of:
(a) optimism, (b) sprightliness, (c) distrust, (d) innocence, (e) sar-
5. The person whom Rasselas is speaking is: (a) a tailor, (b) a gam-
bler, (c) a bat, (d) an artist, (e) a biologist.
6. The word "volant", according to the context, means: (a) crawling,
(b) flying, (c) violent, (d) carnivorous, (e) ferocious.

Ability to Think Clearly

Read the items carefully and answer as best you can.
1. Given: Either the queen will not punish the prince or if war is not
inevitable, then the prince's lover will not be jealous; but if the
jealousy of the prince's lover implies that war is inevitable, the
king will be angry and if the queen's punishing the prince implies
that the king is angry, then the king is bald, but he's not bald.
(a) Will the queen punish the prince?
(b) Will the king be angry?
2. Given: Albert, Bill, Charlie and David are storekeepers and that
either Albert of Bill must go shopping every day, but never on the
same day, and that when Albert stays home, Charlie always goes
shopping, and when Bill stays home, David always goes shopping.
(a) Can David stay home when Charlie stays home?
(b) When David stays home, does Charlie go shopping?
(c) If Bill goes shopping, can Charlie stay home?
(d) If David does not go shopping, can Albert still go shopping?
3. Given that "Countries receiving U.S. aid are never poor" is true,
what do you know about the following? (True = T, False = F, Un-
related = U). Circle one.
a. Countries failing to receive U.S. aid are never rich. T F U
b. Few countries fail to receive U.S. aid. T F U
c. No rich country receives U.S. aid. T F U
d. Few countries receiving U.S. aid are rich. T F U
e. Countries failing to receive U.S. aid are always rich. T F U
f. No poor country fails to receive U.S. aid. T F U
g. Every rich country receives U.S. aid. T F U
h. A few poor countries receive U.S. aid. T F U
In each of the following sets of propositions, assume A is true; what then
do you know about B?
4. A. Few hedgehogs read the New York Times.
B. A few hedgehogs read the New York Times. T F U
5. A. Every Dodo loves to run a caucus-race.
B. Few Dodos love to run a caucus-race. T F U
6. A. All that glitters is not gold.
B. Some glittering objects are gold. T F U
7. A. All that sparkles is not a diamond.
B. Only diamonds sparkle. T F U
Given the first proposition as true, what can you determine about each
of the following?
7. At least certain underdeveloped nations will eventually become de-
a. At least a few underdeveloped nations will not become
developed. T F U
b. Underdeveloped nations never will become developed. T F U
c. Eventually all nations will become developed. T F U
8. All governments are not neutral.
a. Few governments are neutral. T F U
b. Every government is neutral. T F U
c. No government is natural. T F U


Are the following arguments deductive or inductive?
10. The Republicans are going to win the November election, Mr. Gallup
reported. Of those interviewed who were not undecided 59% said
they plan to vote Republican.
11. Everybody will agree that swimming is the most healthful sport, for
it exercises more muscles of one's body than any other sport and
this is of course more healthful.
12. The Yankees have the odds on the pennant again this year, for they've
won it more than any other club.
13. It's going to rain. Listen to the thunder! Every time I've heard
it thunder like that it rained.

Decision-Making Ability

Answer the following questions by picking what you think is the best

1. For some time now in a certain family a child about 11 years old has
been developing poor work habits in regard to school work. The
child leaves homework until the last minute and often does not get
it done or does it carelessly. What should the parents do?
a. Ignore it; do nothing about it.
b. Help the child with the homework.
c. Punish the child if the homework is not completed.
d. Explain the importance of developing good work habits.
e. Set a definite time each day for the child to do homework.
f. Check each day to make sure the child has done the work.
2. If your oven caught on fire what would you do?
a. Close the oven door and wait for the fire to burn out.
b. Pour baking soda on the fire.
c. Call the fire department.
d. Use a fire extinguisher.
3. If alternative A had a 20% probability of giving you a payoff of
$100, alternative B had a 50% probability of giving you a $40 pay-
off, alternative C had a 80% probability of giving you a $25 payoff
and alternative D had a 70% probability of giving you a $30 payoff,
which alternative would you choose?
a. A d. D
b. B e. None of them.
c. C
4. When you face an approach-approach conflict what do you do?
a. Pick the alternative that has the surest benefits.
b. List the pros and cons of each alternative.
c. Flip a coin to choose one alternative.
d. Wait for more information.
e. Pick the alternative that has the longterm payoff.
f. Pick the alternative that is best at the moment.
5. A person nears their home and sees that the front door is ajar and
the front room seems to be in disarray. The nearest neighbor is
mile away. What should the person do?
a. Carefully enter the house and get to the phone to call someone.
b. Determine whether anyone is in the house.
c. Run to the neighbor's and phone the police.
d. Call out, "Is anyone there?".
e. Sneak behind the bushes and listen for 5 minutes.
6. For some time now in a certain family a child about 11 years old has
been stealing things from a local department store. No one else
knows about it but the parents. What should they do?
a. Explain the results of crime and point out that "crime doesn't
b. Deprive the child of TV and movies for a month.
c. Threaten the child with telling the police if it happens again.
d. Ignore it; do nothing about the situation.
e. Spend more time with the child and do more things together.
f. Make the child take back the stolen things and pay for what cannot
be returned.


7. You are having a hard time deciding whether to go to college A or
college B. What would you do?
a. Pick the one where you would get the best education.
b. Pick the one where you would be happiest.
c. Flip a coin to choose one alternative.
d. Go where your parents want you to go.
8. If a friend wanted advice on an interpersonal problem, what would
you do?
a. Listen carefully, but make no declarative statement.
b. Tell what you honestly think about the situation.
c. Say that you would rather not be involved.
d. Listen carefully and say what you think the person wants to hear.
e. Listen carefully and help the person sort out his/her thoughts.
f. Try to change the subject.
9. What do you think is the most important principle in decision-
a. Act as fast as the situation warrants.
b. Decide, and don't look back.
c. Act rationally.
d. Imagine all possible outcomes and choose the one that seems right.
e. Consider all the pros and cons.
f. If it feels right, do it.
10. In cohesive groups, which are good ways to insure effective thinking
and decision-making?
a. Playing the devil's advocate.
b. Listing the pros and cons.
c. Taking the majority decision.
d. Critically evaluating all ideas.
e. Acting rationally.
f. Consulting outside advisors.
11. A person has been invited to go somewhere with a person they are not
very fond of and they accept. Later a person that they really would
like to know asks them somewhere for the same time. What should
they do?
a. Decline the second offer.
b. Accept the second offer and tell the first person they are sick.
c. Accept the second offer and explain the situation to the first
d. Decline the second offer, break the first date and stay home.
e. Decline the second offer and invite the person for another time.
12. As you are driving along the deserted road you come upon a car that
has hit a tree. The nearest phone is 5 miles away. What should
you do?
a. Stop the car, get out and try to help any injured persons.
b. Drive ahead to the phone and call the police.
c. Put any injured persons in your car and get them to a doctor.
d. Get out to help, and set up a signal to any cars that might pass.
13. You are a senior in college and have been offered a job that would
provide ample salary and benefits but you really want to study
Egyptian history in graduate school. What should you do?
a. Take the job and put off graduate school until later.
b. Do what your heart desires and go to graduate school.
c. Take the job and concentrate on advancement rather then a useless


d. Tell your employer you want to leave the job in two years in
order to get the graduate degree.
e. Wait to see if you get graduate funding.


Education Scale

Read each item carefully and put the number next to it that expresses
your feeling about the statement. Be sure to answer each item.
1 = Strongly Disagree
2 = Disagree
3 = Undecided
4 = Agree
5 = Strongly Agree

1. A person can learn more by working four years than by going
to high school.
2. The more education a person has the better he or she is able
to enjoy.
3. Education is no help in getting a job today.
4. A high school education is worth all the time and effort it
5. Our schools encourage an individual to think for himself or
6. Solution of the world's problems will come through education.
7. Savings spent on education are wisely invested.
8. Parents should not be compelled to send their children to
9. Education is more valuable than most people think.
S10. Education has failed unless it has helped people to understand
and express their own feelings and experiences.
11. How students feel about what they learn is as important as
what they learn.
12. The goals of education should be dictated by children's needs
and interests, as well as by the larger demands of society.
13. Teachers should have academic freedom---freedom to teach what
they think is right and best.
14. Learning is experimental; the child should be taught to test
alternatives before accepting any of them.
15. The true value of education is so arranging learning that
children gradually build up a store house of knowledge that
they can use in the future.
16. Education and educational institutions must be sources of new
social ideas; education must be a social program undergoing
continual reconstruction.
17. Certain facts and knowledge are necessary for the study of
all subjects and these facts do not change very much.
18. Pupils should study only subjects that they feel they will
need in later life.
19. All children should be encouraged to aim at the highest aca-
demic goals.
20. A person's experiences have more to do with his or her learning
ability than does innate intelligence.
21. An activity, to be educationally valuable, should train
reasoning and memory in general.
22. It is more important for children to have faith in themselves
than for them to be obedient.


Attitude toward Self-reliance

This scale contains a list of items such as this:
I think children should be able to brush their teeth daily without
being told to do so by the age of

We want you to read an item, then think of children who are neigher high
nor low in intelligence, physical development, etc., but near the average.
Then mark in the blank the age at which anyone of these "near-average"
children should be able to perform this task.
For example, if you think that the average child should be able to brush
his or her teeth daily without being told to do so by the age of five
years, place the figure five in the blank, like this:
I think children should be able to brush their teeth daily without
being told to do so by the age of 5
In some cases you may wish to put down the age in months rather than
years. In such cases write "mos." after the figure, like this: 2 mos.
We want your own opinion on each item.

1. I believe that children can be taught to make a good selection of
their own meal when dining in a hotel or restaurant by the age of

2. I believe that children should be able to wash and dry the dishes
after a family meal by the age of
3. I feel that children should be able to prepare a simple family
dinner without assistance after it has been planned by a parent by
the age of
4. (Disregard legal age when marking this item.)
I feel that children should be able to drive the family car when
adults are in the car by the age of
5. I think that children should be able to take responsibility for
keeping at least one room clean throughout the week (assuming they
have help in one regular weekly cleaning) by the age of
6. I think that children can be left in charge of the household with
younger members of the family (not more than three children and none
younger than three years and assuming at least one parent is home at
night) by the age of
7. I believe that children should be taught to buy their own clothing
without help from an adult by the age of
8. I think that children should be taught how to obtain their own
answers to their questions such as "How is silk made?" and "Where
does rubber come from?" by the age of
9. I believe that children should be able to take the entire respon-
sibility for their homework (i.e., complete it without parental
reminder or supervision) by the age of
10. I think children are capable of taking entire care of their hair
(i.e., wash, comb, decide how it is to be worn, when it is to be
cut, etc.) by the age of
11. I feel that children should be able to make their own bed daily
(excepting when sheets are changed) without help by the age of
12. I feel that children should be able to plan and prepare a simple
family dinner (e.g., meat, potatoes, vegetable and dessert) by the
age of


13. I think that children should be included in some family discussions
(e.g. on expenditures of money), their opinions being considered
along with the opinions of older members of the family, by the
age of
14. I think children should be able to choose the movies they wish to
attend by the age of
15. I think children should be able to partake in extra-curricular
activities, with some parental guidance in the choice of activities
by the age of
16. I think that children should be able to choose their own reading
material, including books, magazines and newspapers, by the age of

17. I think a child should be allowed to leave the parental home for a
period of time (e.g. to a six weeks camp) by the age of
18. I think that children should be able to make desirable choice from
their wardrobe of clothing to be worn, without suggestions from
an adult, by the age of
19. I think that children should be able to plan and give a simple
afternoon party for immediate friends by the age of
20. I think that a child should be able to prepare and serve lunch to
the younger members of the family when the parents are away for
lunch by the age of
21. I think that children should be able to take the responsibility
for paying one monthly bill for the family (e.g. obtain the money
from the parents, pay the bill of the date it is due or before,
get receipt for payment--this refers to bills such as light, gas
or water bills) by the age of
22. I think that children should be able to make their own arrangements
about going to an evening party, when it means taking a street car
or bus a distance of three miles or less, by the age of (this
refers to a party which begins at seven o'clock and ends at ten
o'clock and includes making decisions as to what time to go, whom
to go with, how to meet companions, etc.)


Attitudes toward Law and Justice

Mark the statements which you agree with in the first column, those you
disagree with in the second column and those you have no opinion about
in the third column.

Agree Disagree No opinion
1. On the whole judges are honest.
2. Police often carry a grudge against
people who get in trouble with the law
and treat them cruelly.
3. For the most part, justice gets done by
the police and the courts.
4. Many of the people in prisons are actually
innocent of the crimes they were con-
victed for.
5. Most policement are honest.
6. Any jury can be fixed and most of them
are fixed.
7. We would have less crime if our laws were
more strict.
8. The big-time crooks never get arrested in
this country. It's just the little guy
that gets caught.
9. Most judges are honest and kind-hearted.
10. Juries seldom understand a case well
enough to make a really just decision.
11. The sentences of judges in court are
determined by their prejudices.
12. Court decisions are almost always just.
13. Justice does not have cross-cultural
14. A hungry person has the right to steal.
15. It is all right to break the law if he
or she does not get caught.
16. Justice is nothing more than certain
acts, beliefs and attitudes of the major-
ity of individuals in their daily rela-
tions with others.
17. Law is essential to the enjoyment by
citizens of their inalienable rights.
18. Justice is something over and above
human beings.
19. Justice is a rarely achieved goal.
20. Law is to secure justice and order among
21. There is no absolute standard of justice.
22. Justice is the maintenance and adminis-
tration of the norms of the people.


Flower Arranging

1. What is the traditional bridal flower?
a. Orange blossoms c. White calla lily
b. White gladioli d. White rose
2. Generally, when is the best time to arrage flowers?
a. Several hours before the function
b. Immediately before the function
c. Anytime before the function
d. Day before the function
3. Which is true about water in flower containers?
a. Completely change water daily
b. Add cold water every day
c. Room temperature is best
d. Refill water only in the evening
4. What is the general principle for proportion of arrangement?
a. Flowers 1- times height of upright container
b. Depends on texture of flowers
c. Height of flowers should be that of the vase
d. There is no general principle
5. Which of the following influence visual balance?
a. Color intensity c. Distance of focus from center
b. Texture d. Number of colors in arrangement
5. Where is the focal point of an arrangement?
a. Where the brightest color is
b. Two-thirds of the way from the top
c. In the middle of the design
d. Where the arranger prefers
7. In a miniature, what determines the height of the container?
a. Length of the stems c. Diameter of the flowers
b. Size of the flowers d. None of the above
8. What is the effect of candlelight?
a. Makes green more yellow c. Darkens blue
b. Lightens blue d. Deepens purple
9. What are the major principles of flower arranging?
a. composition, unity, focus, balance
b. balance, focus, harmony
c. shape, focus, balance
d. unity, composition, harmony
10. What are the types of color harmony?
a. monochromatic, polychromatic, complementary
b. monochromatic, analogous, complementary
c. hue, tint, pastel
d. chromatic, semi-chromatic, analogoug
11. Which is most true about table arrangements?
a. Include no fruit as guests may eat them
b. Make low enough so as not to obstruct conversation
c. High arrangements are permissible if there is "window" space
d. Should be equally interesting from all sides
12. What is most important in a dried arrangement?
a. Keep away from sun c. Place it high in the room
b. Keep away from draught d. Have it fairly low in height


13. Which are ways to keep flowers longer?
a. Two aspirin per quart water
b. Pounding stems
c. Cut stems straight across
d. Squeeze out stem juice
14. When is the best time to "condition" flowers?
a. Anytime before placement c. At least 24 hours before placement
b. Night before placement d. At night
15. For flower arranging, which are the forms of color?
a. Pure color and shade c. Pure color, white and hue
b. Hue and pure color d. Pure color, white, hue and tone
16. What does "miniature" refer to?
a. Using small flowers c. Representation on reduced scale
b. Bonzai d. Specially grown flowers

Cross-word Puzzle Ability
Given below are items from cross-word puzzles in daily newspapers. You
are to enter in the space provided the best answer you can think of.
The number of blanks indicates the number of letters in each answer.

Weight of India
Military group
Ems or Evian
French writer
"The strife is "
Aircraft metal
Bar offering
Nerve of vision
Rorschach, for one
Wandering one
Road covering
Rope fiber
Washstand item
Fast planes
Pueblo Indian
Depots: Abbr.
Kind of hygiene or surgery
Part of Mao's name
Pittsburgh athlete
Glove fabric
Devil's feet
Writer Graham
Bone dry
Stendhal character
Alliance of West
Gary of golf
Range of central U.S.
Musical alley



Building Cupboards

1. Which wood is most commonly used for cupboards?
a. Hardwoods c. Hardwoods and some softwoods
b. Pine and maple d. Softwoods
2. Which is true of plywood?
a. It is three layers glued together
b. It comes in 3, 5, or 7 ply
c. It is between " and 1" thick
d. Different types of wood are glued cross-grain
3. Which wood most easily dents?
a. Pine c. Cherry
b. Redwood d. Maple
4. What is the thickness of lumber for cupboards?
a. 1" c. 3/4" or 13/16"
b. " to 1" d. "
5. Which can be used to shape wood?
a. Lathe c. Drill-press
b. Shaper-press d. English shaper
6. What are the kinds of stress at a joint?
a. direct, indirect
b. shear, compression, tension
c. tension, shear, rabbet
d. full, tension, shear
7. Which are standard glued joints?
a. Cross-lapped c. Dovetail
b. Mortise and tenon d. Mitre
8. What are drawer bottoms made of?
a. i" plywood c. " any wood
b. " pine d. 3/8" pine
9. What is true of the order of assembly of a drawer?
a. Front and one side first c. Back and one side first
b. Chamfer first d. Bottom is last
10. Which is true of sanding?
a. Belt sander substitutes for hand
b. Belt sander runs in both directions
c. Belt sander not appropriate
d. Finish with hand sanding
11. What are the types of glue?
a. Hide, plastic resin, flake c. Plastic resin, hide, white
b. Plastic resin, white d. Resin, celage, white
12. Which is the final grade of sandpaper used?
a. 3/0 c. Smooth
b. 6/0 d. 5/0
13. Which is the most difficult to apply?
a. Varnish c. French polish
b. Lacquer d. Lorton finish
14. Which joint is used for drawers?
a. Glue-joint c. Dowel pin
b. Mortise and tenon d. Dovetail
15. Why are dowel joints grooved spirally?
a. To fit tighter c. They are not grooved spirally
b. For escape of air d. For better resistance

16. What is a dado?
a. Ornamental piece
b. Has nothing to do with carpentry
c. Groove
d. Type of finial
17. What is the most important structural detail in a free-sliding
a. Rigidity c. Ease of slide
b. Balance d. Angle of dovetail joints
18. What is a chamfer?
a. A saw cut c. A machine to cut lumber
b. A type of finial d. A 45 degree cut removing a corner