Disconfirmed hedonic expectations produce perceptual contrast, not assimilation

Debra Zellner, Dinah Strickhouser, Carina E. Tornow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

In studies of hedonic ratings, contrast is the usual result when expectations about test stimuli are produced through the presentation of context stimuli, whereas assimilation is the usual result when expectations about test stimuli are produced through labeling, advertising, or the relaying of information to the subject about the test stimuli. Both procedures produce expectations that are subsequently violated, but the outcomes are different. The present studies demonstrate that both assimilation and contrast can occur even when expectations are produced by verbal labels and the degree of violation of the expectation is held constant. One factor determining whether assimilation or contrast occurs appears to be the certainty of the expectation. Expectations that convey certainty are produced by methods that lead to social influence on subjects' ratings, producing assimilation. When social influence is not a factor and subjects give judgments influenced only by the perceived hedonic value of the stimulus, contrast is the result.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-387
Number of pages25
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychology
Volume117
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2004

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