The long-term objectives are to isolate and explain the conditions under which it is beneficial versus detrimental to engage in self-reflection. The proposed research will continue to investigate the consequences and value of self-reflection, particularly reflections about why we feel the way we do about an attitude object. Previously-funded research has demonstrated that this type of self-reflection can change attitudes, lower attitude-behavior consistency, and lower satisfaction with choices, and considerable progress has been made in understanding when and why these effects occur. The present studies will extend this research in three areas; (a) A continuation of studies investigating the mediating processes responsible for these effects and the boundary conditions that limit them. For example, the hypothesis that explaining an attitude will be most disruptive when people are not fully aware of why they feel the way they do will be tested; (b) studies investigating self-reflection in the realm of personal decision making, documenting when and why it is sometimes best to avoid analyzing the alternatives too much before making a decision; and (c) studies investigating self-reflection as a means of """""""" unfreezing"""""""" attitudes; That is, making them more susceptible to lasting change, including such rigid attitudes as prejudiced feelings toward an outgroup. Nineteen studies are proposed using both experimental and survey designs, in both the laboratory and the field. The proposed research is of direct relevance to the literatures on attitudes, attitudes, attitude-behavior consistency, ruminative thought, decision making, persuasion, stereotyping, and the interface between affect and cognition. It also has important methodological implications to both survey and experimental designs that use """"""""why"""""""" questions as dependent measures, by demonstrating that such measures can be reactive, changing subsequent responses. Finally, the research has some important applied implications to the areas of personal decision making and reducing prejudice, and, indirectly, to other areas where self-reflection is common, such as psychotherapy.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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Mental Health Behavioral Sciences Research Review Committee (BSR)
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University of Virginia
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Wilson, T D; Houston, C E; Etling, K M et al. (1996) A new look at anchoring effects: basic anchoring and its antecedents. J Exp Psychol Gen 125:387-402
Wilson, T D; LaFleur, S J (1995) Knowing what you'll do: effects of analyzing reasons on self-prediction. J Pers Soc Psychol 68:21-35
Wilson, T D; Hodges, S D; LaFleur, S J (1995) Effects of introspecting about reasons: inferring attitudes from accessible thoughts. J Pers Soc Psychol 69:16-28
Wilson, T D; Brekke, N (1994) Mental contamination and mental correction: unwanted influences on judgments and evaluations. Psychol Bull 116:117-42
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Wilson, T D; Lisle, D J; Kraft, D et al. (1989) Preferences as expectation-driven inferences: effects of affective expectations on affective experience. J Pers Soc Psychol 56:519-30