Judgment of contingency: Contrast and assimilation, displacement of judgments, and self-efficacy

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Steven Clark
Victor A. Benassi
Cite this article:  Clark, S., & Benassi, V. (1997). Judgment of contingency: Contrast and assimilation, displacement of judgments, and self-efficacy. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 25(2), 183-200.


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College students who judged extreme contingency problems (100% or 0%) and then midscale problems (50%) produced a contrast effect, whereas students who judged more moderate contingency problems (67% or 33%) and then the same midscale problems, did not. In addition, students in the 100%-50% and 67%-50% experimental conditions showed greater judgmental displacement from their anchoring judgments than participants in the 0%-50% and 33%-50% conditions. We attribute this finding to the psychological function of the judgment of contingency which indicates that a 50% contingency problem is typically judged to be less than it's objective contingency. In general, people show less judgmental sensitivity among contingencies below about .5 than among those above this value. This reduced sensitivity indicates that judgments among low levels of contingency are more difficult than judgments among high levels of contingency. Some self-efficacy may be related to performance on difficult tasks but not easy tasks. In our experiment, self-efficacy was related to judgmental displacement for students in the more difficult 0%-50% and 33%-50% conditions, and was not related to judgmental displacement for students in the more easy 100%-50% and 67%-50% conditions.
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