The two next papers in my Srull & Wyer trace: Carver et al (1983) and Fazio et al (1983)

Onward to two more papers in the trail of Srull & Wyer citations.

The first one is the easier one.: Carver, Ganellen, Froming and Chamber’s probe into Modeling and Category Accessibility. Modeling here is not related to SEM or Neural nets, or posing in front of a camera, but to Observational Learning, where the model is the person we emulate.

It consists of 2 experiments where the first uses the Donald Paragraph*, and the second uses the sentence priming task from Srull & Wyer.

In experiment 1, participants are first exposed to a video of a businessman and his secretary (ungendered, but one can guess). In one video, the businessman was hostile and derogatory, in the other he was neutral.

Then they judged toned-down-for-Florida Donald, on the same scales as Srull & Wyer.

Originally, they intended to also look at gender-differences, so they recruited 20 males and 19 females (appears that one guessed the connection and got dropped), but they found no gender differences. They did find a model difference, as predicted.

Hostile Neutral
Descriptively related 38,83 35,14 F (1,74) = 5,58, p < .03

Nothing for the evaluatively related (interesting).

Experiment 2 reads like a mash-up between Milgram and Srull & Wyer – minus the scientist demanding obedience.

The ostensible task that the participants are doing is a learning task. They will be the teacher, and their job is to administer electric shocks to the learner when he did a mistake (the learner is a confederate of undisclosed gender, but I don’t think “he” is a stretch.) The shocking apparatus has 10 setting, the participant gets to experience and rate the intensity of the shock. The instruction to the participant is to teach the problem to the learner as effectively as possible.


Then, oops, a poor masters-student would like to get some help (this is definitely a she), could they please help?

This task is the sentence-unscrambling task from Srull & Wyer. There are 30 items, and the mix is either 80% hostile or 20% hostile.

They then proceed to the learning task. There are 34 trials, and the confederate is mistaken on 20 of these. Yes, like in milgram, no shocks are administered. I presume that, unlike Milgram, there are no shrieks of pain.

In a debriefing, participants did not realize that the priming and the shocking had anything to do with one-another, but one participant didn’t believe he had administered any shocks, so he was eliminated from the analysis.

The Dependent measure was, of course, the average shock-intensity, with the predicted effect that the 80% mix would administer stronger shocks.

It came true!

80% hostile 20% hostile t cohens d
3,31 2,24 t(29) = 2,.24, p < .05 0,82

*In, presumably a pre-study, they found that the University of Miami students perceived Donald as more hostile than the University of Illinois students did, so the softened and/or deleted some elements to make it more ambiguous.

The second paper, by Fazio, Powell & Herr is a lot more… complicated.

Fazio is mr Attitudes, and attitudes is what he has explored during his career. (I figure I disclose again that he was one of my professors, and I took his attitudes class).

The question they are exploring here is whether being exposed to an attitude object will influence subsequent judgments of something that is unrelated.

To back-track a bit, an attitude is considered an evaluation of an attitude object. To make it more concrete – I like my i-phone, so my attitude is positive. I loathe ketchup, so my attitude is negative, in fact very strongly so. But, for lots of things that we are at least somewhat familiar with, we do have this kind of mild positive/negative evaluation. We like or dislike them.

Now, if I’m exposed to something that I have either a positive or negative attitude towards, quite incidentally, could that possibly bias me so that the judgment I make of an ambiguous person will be more like my attitude? Or, would exposing me to ketchup drive me to judge Donald as more Hostile?

That is a rather oblique chain.

Their first experiment is a conceptual replication of Srull & Wyer. They simply need to find out if priming with evaluative adjectives could bias judgment in a person perception task.

The priming task was the Color task described in the earlier Fazio study (which I believe is adapted from Higgins et al 1977). The ten pairs were presented twice. (As they had been in the earlier also)

They created four conditions:

a)Positive applicable, b) negative applicable, c) positive non-applicable, d) negative non-applicable.

The selected prime-words are listed below.







Negative non-applicable
















The ambiguous story was about Ted, a high-school student waiting for his ride who is then asked to participate in an experiment where he solves a number of problems.

Participants are then asked to indicate why they think Ted participated by rating the following on a 0-10 point scale:

  1. In order to earn the extra money
  2. To have something to do while waiting for his ride
  3. Because he liked and was interested in the experimental task.

What they were particularly interested in was whether the prime could move around the judgment of the third reason – the intrinsically motivated reason.

They do a somewhat convoluted summary of the causes. They take the mean of the first two (extrinsically motivated), then subtract the rating of the third. In the resulting index it means then that the lower the number the more the participant attributed the reason to participate to intrinsic motivation.

The results are weak. The mean rating does not reach significance, although the pattern looks like they had hoped. The reason, they speculate, is that the standard deviation in each cell is very high. There are 15 individuals in each, so maybe not surprising it is unstable and non-significant.







Negative non-applicable
1,567 3,200 3,033 3,033

Mean standard deviation: 8,57. Cohen’s d for the applicable primes: ,19







Negative non-applicable
Above median 4 10 9 6
Below Median 11 5 6 9

So, instead, they do a median split, and count number of participants above and below median- as you can see above. They find an interaction between applicability and valence using a non-parametric analysis, and in the applicable condition, they find a significant difference between the priming conditions.

Just for laughs I stuck the applicable and the non-applicable in separate Chi-square analyses, and found the first one significant, but not the other one.

They admit that this is disappointingly weak, but proceed to the next task anyway.

Experiment 2.

Here the connections are even more stretched – and this is the main experiment.

They really didn’t want to prime with attitudes, but to prime with an attitude-objects; simply exposing someone to this object to see if that changes the rating (as in the ketchup-Donald suggestion).

But, our attitudes can be somewhat idiosyncratic, of varying strengths and really difficult to control in an experimental setting, so they do what they have done in lots of experiments since: they create and manipulate attitudes.

Participants are presented with 5 puzzles. These are presented in two versions. For 1/3 of the participants (that is about 37 or so) the worksheets are not filled in, and they are asked to work on solving the puzzles. For the remaining 2/3rds (whatever n to fill up to 112 participants), they get the same puzzles, but these are now solved, and they get to listen to a tape where they explain the puzzles and how to solve them. These two conditions are the direct experience and the indirect experience conditions.

After they have been exposed to the puzzles, they get to rate each puzzle on a -5 to + 5 scale, where -5 means extremely boring, and -5 extremely interesting.

For half of those in the indirect condition the experience doesn’t stop here. No, they also get to repeat their ratings of the puzzles twice. This is done under the guise that the experimenter needs some help with the data-entry and getting the ratings to a professor.

So, here we have created three types of attitude-formations:

Direct experience,

1 repetition of explicit attitude

Indirect experience

1 repetition of explicit attitude

Indirect experience

3 repetitions of explicit attitudes

One can think that the attitude would be stronger in the first and 3rd condition than in the middle condition.

In the next step, the priming takes place, and the individual priming is in part tailor-made as follows.

The experimenter is presented with the participant’s favorite and least favorite puzzle. The participant is then randomly assigned to either a positive or a negative condition. The priming task is then created with the selected puzzle in the 7th position of that same color priming task.

Now, the participant will be primed either by her or his favorite or least favorite puzzle.

Finally, they get to rate Ted, who has now become even more ambiguous as to what motivates him to participate in the experiment (incidentally, of course, it is a puzzle experiment). They add an open-ended question also, which they simply correlate with the other ratings.

The ratings are combined as in experiment 1, and here are the means.

Direct experience,

1 repetition of explicit attitude

Indirect experience

1 repetition of explicit attitude

Indirect experience

3 repetitions of explicit attitudes

Positive -,309 ,063 -,170
Negative ,285 -,234 ,366

Notice first of all that no ratings are higher than the absolute value around 0. Remember that the scale goes from 0-10, and that the intrinsically motivated score was subtracted from the mean score of the two extrinsically motivated scores. This means that they were all very similar. I’m not sure one can fruitfully compare to experiment 1, as so many of the numbers are embedded in one another, but the means were much higher there, and there seems to be much more variation.

The reported results are marginal: The main effect of puzzle valence: F(1,106) = 2,72, p = .11

Condition x valence interaction F(2,106) = 2,87, p = .06.

But, let’s look at the means to see what they are after. The idea is that you may be able to have a stronger reaction if the attitude is strong. This is not the same as extreme. It is just strong. It will be reliably and quickly evoked in whatever direction. And, a way to create a strong attitude is to either interact with the attitude object, or to repeat ones attitude several times. That is the case in the two conditions on the flanks. Those primed with positive attitude objects end up having a negative score, meaning that they attributed Teds behavior more to intrinsic than extrinsic motivation, whereas when primed with negative objects, the reaction is the reversed. It is as if the evaluation of the object kinda spills over into the evaluation of puzzle solving ted (he does it because he likes it). The stats for the direct experience are t(106) = 2,01, p < .05, and for the repetition t(106) = 1,84, p < .07.

In the weak attitude condition, the pattern is the opposite way, although I’m not sure why that would be the case. T(106) = 1.01.

Then again, none of this is very strong evidence. I keep wondering (now) if they are chasing noise.

In both these papers, there are never more than 20 people in each cell, measuring effects that really should be thought of as weak, and which are showing up as weak also. I’m not sure how to put this all together.

Carver, Charles S., Ganellen, Ronald, J., Froming, William J., & Chambers, William (1983). Modeling: An analysis in terms of category accessibility. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 19, 403-421.

Fazio, Russell H., Powell, Martha C., Herr, Paul M. (1983) Toward a process model of the attitude-behavior relation: Accessings one’s attitude upon mere observation of the attitude object. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 723-735.


About asehelene

... because if I'm in a room with a second person, I want to be reasonably sure I'm the crazier one.
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