Outcome dependency and attention to inconsistent information

Ralph Erber, Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

306 Scopus citations


Hypothesized that people sometimes ignore information inconsistent with their expectations, but that outcome dependency (OCD) would increase people's attention to inconsistent information. When the perceiver's outcomes depend on the other person, the perceiver may be more motivated to have a sense of prediction and control, rather than only motivated to maintain the expectation. Attention to inconsistent information potentially increases the perceiver's sense of prediction and control, so it should increase under OCD. Attention to consistent information should be relatively unaffected by OCD. The results of 2 studies with 102 undergraduates support these hypotheses. OCD increased attention to inconsistent information, but did not influence attention to consistent information. In the 2nd study, think-aloud protocols revealed that outcome-dependent Ss made more dispositional comments while attending to inconsistent information, and generated both facilitative and inhibitory dispositional attributions for the inconsistent information. This suggests that whether they integrated the inconsistency or not, they responded with more thought about the other person's stable characteristics. Findings are considered in relation to previous work showing situational attributions for inconsistency and to models of meaning change in impression formation. (49 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)709-726
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1984

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • outcome dependency, attention to information consistent vs inconsistent with expectations, college students


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