Role of disconfirmed expectancies in the instigation of attributional processing

Thomas A. Pyszczynski, Jeff Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

246 Scopus citations


Tested the hypothesis that individuals engage in more thorough attributional processing for unexpected events than they do for expected events. 51 undergraduates observed the experimenter asking a confederate either a small or large favor. The small request led to an expectancy of compliance; the large request led to expectancy of refusal. The confederate then either did or did not comply with the request, thus either confirming or disconfirming Ss' expectancies. Ss were than allowed to look at any 5 of the confederates' responses to a 10-item questionnaire that the confederate had supposedly filled out earlier. Five of the items on the questionnaire were relevant to helping, and 5 were of general interest. As predicted, Ss chose more helping-relevant items when their expectancies had been disconfirmed. Implications for attributions for the behavior of stereotyped out-group members are discussed. (33 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-38
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1981
Externally publishedYes


  • confederate compliance confirming vs disconfirming Ss' expectancies, attributions of confederates' helping behavior, college students, implications for attributions of stereotyped out group members

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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