Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Kaplan, Martin F.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Interpersonal attraction


Effects of stimulus order in person perception tasks were considered. Research involving descriptive adjectives as information has generally yielded primacy effects on the final response. This may be attributed to greater weight, or attention to, earlier presented information in a sequence. Research involving attitudes as the major independent variable, on the other hand, has typically yielded primacy effects or no order effects on the final response. It has been proposed that attitude agreement or disagreement sets up an affective state in S_ which is neutralized by his overt or implicit attraction response. Thus, only information received since the most recent response would be used in making any given response. It was hypothesized here that the information conveyed by attitudes and their agreeableness with the subject is more difficult to integrate in forming an impression than that conveyed by descriptive adjectives alone. Given more complex information S_s may resolve difficulties in integration by attending less to earlier presented information. Thus, using attitudes as stimuli, the present research attempted to predict order effects on the basis of attention decrement across ordinal position by manipulating ease of information integration. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of eight experimental conditions. In any given condition, information integration was either facilitated or not facilitated and Ss were subjected to sequences either proceeding from agreement to disagreement, or disagreement to agreement. In addition, sequences were either of extreme or moderate polarity with polarity being determined by the placement of agreement or disagreement within sequences. The basic procedure involved having S read a series of 20 attitude statements through a simulated intercom system. He either agreed or disagreed with the opinion contained in each attitude and, in turn, was either agreed or disagreed with by means of a pre-recorded tape played through the simulated intercom. Subjects were told to contrast their opinions against those of the contrived person and, on the basis of this information, rate the other person on four different scales, one scale yielding a measure of attraction or likeableness. Subjects made an attraction rating after every fourth attitude for a total of five responses or blocks. The data were treated to an overall analysis of variance treating facilitation condition, sequence, polarity and blocks as between factors with Ss nested in blocks. Separate analyses were performed for the extreme and moderate polarity conditions. The most important finding was the facilitation condition by sequence interaction within the extreme polarity condition. As predicted, facilitation of information integration resulted in a primacy effect on the final response while nonfacilitation led to a recency effect, the latter replicating the findings of Byrne et al., (1969). A weighted averaging model was applied to the group data and parameters were empirically derived. The results suggested that only positive information was influenced by the facilitation vs. nonfacilitation manipulation, negative information having a consistent effect on attraction scores regardless of facilitation condition. Results were discussed in terms of alternate explanations of order effects. An attention decrement explanation of order effects was capable of handling the data if integration facility was taken into account. The affect neutralization proposal was unable to handle the data. Data from the applied weighted averaging model questioned the appropriateness of determining order effects on the basis of visual inspection of response curves to inverse sequences of stimulus information since conditions resulting in visually apparent recency effects exhibited the primacy component of decremental weighting over ordinal position. Applications of the findings of the present research to the area of clinical psychology were considered as they related to therapist-patient attraction effects in therapeutic contexts.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


60 pages




Northern Illinois University

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