Accountability and judgment processes in a personality prediction task

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1987 Apr;52(4):700-9. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.52.4.700.


In this experiment, we investigated the impact of accountability--social pressures to justify one's views to others--on cognitive processing in a personality-prediction task. Subjects were presented with the responses of actual test-takers to 16 items from Jackson's Personality Research Form (PRF) and asked to predict how these individuals responded to an additional set of 16 items from the same test. Subjects were assigned to a no-accountability condition (they learned that all of their responses would be anonymous), a preexposure-accountability condition (they learned of the need to justify their responses before seeing the test-takers' PRF responses), and a postexposure-accountability condition (they learned of the need to justify their responses after seeing the test-takers' PRF responses). Preexposure-accountability subjects reported more integratively complex impressions of test-takers, made more accurate behavioral predictions, and reported more appropriate levels of confidence in their predictions than did either no-accountability or postexposure-accountability subjects. We conclude by considering possible psychological mediators of these effects as well as the broader theoretical implications of the findings for the development of contingency models of judgment and choice.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Personality*
  • Set, Psychology
  • Social Environment
  • Social Perception*