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

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1975 Nov;32(5):880-92. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.32.5.880.


Two experiments demonstrated that self-perceptions and social perceptions may persevere after the initial basis for such perceptions has been completely discredited. In both studies subjects first received false feedback, indicating that they had either succeeded or failed on a novel discrimination task and then were thoroughly debriefed concerning the predetermined and random nature of this outcome manipulation. In experiment 2, both the initial outcome manipulation and subsequent debriefing were watched and overheard by observers. Both actors and observers showed substantial perseverance of initial impressions concerning the actors' performance and abilities following a standard "outcome" debriefing. "Process" debriefing, in which explicit discussion of the perseverance process was provided, generally proved sufficient to eliminate erroneous self-perceptions. Biased attribution processes that might underlie perserverance phenomena and the implications of the present data for the ethical conduct of deception research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aptitude
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Psychological Theory
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Perception*