Skip to main content

Belief Perseverance and Self-Defeating Behavior

  • Chapter

Part of the The Plenum Series in Social / Clinical Psychology book series (SSSC)

Abstract

At first glance, self-defeating behaviors predicated on honestly (but incorrectly) held beliefs would seem readily amenable to change. Surely in most cases, information is available to challenge these beliefs, set the record straight, and enhance the possibility of more adaptive behaviors. Yet both experience and research suggest that this optimistic appraisal is far too simplistic. The gap between information received and information perceived is filled with a surprising array of biases and errors which ultimately weaken the impact of new information on current beliefs. In this chapter, we explore ways in which beliefs persist in light of new information and in spite of the discrediting of old information. We see how people often are insensitive to information in the environment, yet ironically, they perceive evidence to support their beliefs where none actually exists. We examine how beliefs can take on a life of their own, no longer in need of the evidence that gave them birth. Throughout the chapter we relate these processes to such problems as depression and loneliness, problems in which the persistence of maladaptive beliefs plays an integral role. We also comment on how an understanding of these issues suggests ways in which incorrect beliefs and self-defeating behaviors may be overcome.

Keywords

  • Social Theory
  • Acquire Immune Deficiency Syndrome
  • Irrational Belief
  • Attributional Style
  • Belief Change

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4613-0783-9_2
  • Chapter length: 30 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   89.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-1-4613-0783-9
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   119.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  • Abramson, L.Y., Seligman, M.E.P., Teasdale, J.D. (1978). Learned helplessness in humans: Critique and reformulation. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 87, 49–74.

    Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, C.A. (1982). Inoculation and counterexplanation: Debiasing techniques in the perseverance of social theories. Social Cognition, 1, 126–139.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, C.A. (1983a). Abstract and concrete data in the perseverance of social theories: When weak data lead to unshakeable beliefs. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 19, 93–108.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, C.A. (1983b). Imagination and expectation: The effect of imagining behavioral scripts on personal intentions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 293–305.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, C.A. (1983c). Motivational and performance deficits in interpersonal settings: The effects of attributional style. Journal of Personality and Society Psychology, 45, 1136–1147.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, C.A., Arnoult, L.H. (1985a). Attributional models of depression, loneliness, and shyness. In J. Harvey, G. Weary (Eds.), Attribution: Basic issues and applications (pp. 235–279 ). New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, C.A., Arnoult, L.H. (1985b). Attributional style and everyday problems in living: Depression, loneliness, and shyness. Social Cognition, 3, 16–35.

    Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, C.A., Arnoult, L.H. (1989). An examination of perceived control, humor, irrational beliefs, and positive stress as moderators of the relation between negative stress and health. Basic and Applied Social Psychology.

    Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, C.A., Godfrey, S. (1987). Thoughts about actions: the effects of specificity and availability of imagined behavioral scripts on expectations about oneself and others. Social Cognition, 5, 238–258.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, C.A., Horowitz, L.M., French, R. (1983). Attributional style of lonely and depressed people. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 127–136.

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, C.A., Jennings, D.L. (1980). When experiences of failure promote expectations of success: The impact of attributing failure to ineffective strategies. Journal of Personality, 48, 393–407.

    Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, C.A., Kellam, K.L. (1988). Hypothetical explanation of social theories and evaluation of new data. Unpublished manuscript.

    Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, C.A., Lepper, M.R., Ross, L. (1980). Perseverance of social theories: The role of explanation in the persistence of discredited information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 1037–1049.

    Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, C.A., New, B.L., Speer, J.R. (1985). Argument availability as a mediator of social theory perseverance. Social Cognition, 3, 235–249.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, C.A., Sechler, E.S. (1986). Effects of explanation and counterexplanation on the development and use of social theories. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 24–34.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, C.A., Sedikides, C. (1989). Thinking about people: Contributions of a typological alternative to associationistic and dimensional models of person perception. Unpublished manuscript.

    Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, C.A., Slusher, M.P. (1986). Relocating motivational effects: A synthesis of cognitive and motivational effects on attributions for success and failure. Social Cognition, 4, 270–292.

    Google Scholar 

  • Arnoult, L.H., Anderson, C.A. (1988). Identifying and reducing causal reasoning biases in clinical practice. In D. Turk, P. Salovey (Eds.), Reasoning, inference, and judgment in clinical psychology: Theory, assessment, and treatment (pp. 209–232 ). New York: The Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191–215.

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bassok, M., Trope, Y. (1983). People’s strategies for testing hypotheses about another’s personality: Confirmatory of diagnostic? Social Cognition, 2, 199–216.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bellezza, F.S., Bower, G.H. (1981). Person stereotypes and memory for people. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41, 856–865.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Borgida, E., Nisbett, R.E. (1977). The differential impact of abstract vs. concrete information on decisions. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 7, 258–271.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Brodt, S.E., Zimbardo, P.G. (1981). Modifying shyness-related social behavior through symptom misattribution. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41, 437–449.

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Burt, M.R. (1980). Cultural myths and support for rape. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38, 217–230.

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Chapman, L.J., Chapman, J.P. (1969). Illusory correlation as an obstacle to the use of valid psychodiagnostic signs. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 74, 271–280.

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Crocker, J. (1981). Judgment of covariation by social perceivers. Psychological Bulletin, 90, 272–292.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Darley, J.M., Fazio, R.H. (1980). Expectancy confirmation processes arising in the social interaction sequence. American Psychologist, 35, 867–881.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Davies, M.F. (1982). Self-focused attention and belief perseverance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 18, 595–605.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Dipboye, R., Macan, T. (1988). A process view of the selection/recruitment interview. In R. Schuler, S. Youngblood, V. Huber (Eds.), Readings in personnel and human resource management, ( 3rd ed., pp. 217–232 ). St. Paul, MN: West Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Duncan, B.L. (1976). Differential social perception and attribution of intergroup violence: Testing the lower limits of stereotyping of blacks. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34, 590–598.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dweck, C.S., Goetz, T.E. (1977). Attributions and learned helplessness. In J.H. Harvey, W. Ickes, R.F. Kidd (Eds.), New directions in attribution research, Vol. 2 (pp. 157–179 ). New York: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ellis, A. (1977). The basic clinical theory of rational-emotive therapy. In A. Ellis R. Grieger (Eds.), Handbook of rational-emotive therapy (pp. 3–34 ). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Elms, A.C. (1967). Role playing, incentive, and dissonance. Psychological Bulletin, 68, 132–148.

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Fleming, J., Arrowood, A.J. (1979). Information processing and the perseverance of discredited self-perceptions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 5, 201–205.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Freedman, R., Papsdorf, J. (1976). Biofeedback and progressive relaxation treatment of insomnia: A controlled all-night investigation. Biofeedback and Self-Regulation, 1, 253–271.

    Google Scholar 

  • Greenwald, A.G. (1969). The open-mindedness of the counterattitudinal role player. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 5, 375–388.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Greenwald, A.G. (1970). When does role playing produce attitude change? Toward an answer. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 16, 214–219.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Greenwald, A.G., Albert, R.D. (1968). Acceptance and recall of improvised arguments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 31–34.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hamilton, D.L. (1979). A cognitive-attributional analysis of stereotyping. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology: Vol. 12 (pp. 53–84 ). New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hamilton, D.L. (Ed.). (1981). Cognitive processes in stereotyping and intergroup behavior. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hamilton, D.L., Rose, T.L. (1980). Illusory correlation and the maintenance of stereotypic beliefs. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 832–845.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Heider, F. (1958). The psychology of interpersonal relations. New York: Wiley.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Horowitz, L.M., French, R., Anderson, C.A. (1982). The prototype of a lonely person. In L. Peplau, D. Perlman (Eds.), Loneliness: A sourcebook of current theory, research, and therapy (pp. 183–205 ). New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Janis, I.L., Mann, L. (1965). Effectiveness of emotional role-playing in modifying smoking habits and attitudes. Journal of Experimental Research in Personality, 1, 84–90.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jelalian, E., Miller, A.G. (1984). The perseverance of beliefs: Conceptual perspectives and research developments. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 2, 25–56.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jennings, D.L., Amabile, T.M., Ross, L. (1982). Informal covariation assessment: Data- based versus theory-based judgments. In D. Kahneman, P. Slovic, A. Tversky (Eds.), Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases (pp. 211–230 ). New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jennings, D.L., Lepper, M.R., Ross, L. (1981). Persistence of impressions of personal persuasiveness: Perseverance of erroneous self-assessments outside the debriefing paradigm. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 7, 257–263.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jones, E.E., Davis, K.E. (1965). From acts to dispositions: The attribution process in person perception. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, Vol 2 (pp. 219–266 ). New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jones, E.E., Harris, V.A. (1967). The attribution of attitudes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 3, 1–24.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Jones, E.E., Nisbett, R.E. (1972). The actor and the observer: Divergent perceptions of the causes of behavior. In E.E. Jones, D.E. Kanouse, H.H. Kelley, R.E. Nisbett, S. Valens, B. Weiner (Eds.) Attribution: Perceiving the causes of behavior (pp. 79–94 ). Morristown, NJ: General Learning Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kahneman, D., Slovic, P., Tversky, A. (Eds.). (1982). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kelley, H.H. (1950). The warm-cold variable in the first impressions of persons. Journal of Personality, 18, 431–439.

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kelley, H.H. (1967). Attribution theory in social psychology. In D. Levine (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation, Vol. 15 (pp. 192–238 ). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kelley, H.H. (1973). The process of causal attribution. American Psychologist, 28, 107–128.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kelley, H.H., Stahelski, A.J. (1970). Social interaction basis of cooperators’ and competitors’ beliefs about others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 16, 66–91.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Koriat, A., Lichtenstein, S., Fischhoff, B. (1980). Reasons for confidence. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 6, 107–118.

    Google Scholar 

  • Koss, M.P., Leonard, K.E., Beezley, D.A., Oros, C.J. (1985). Nonstranger sexual aggression: A discriminant analysis of psychological characteristics of nondetected offenders. Sex Roles, 12, 981–992.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lane, D.M., Anderson, C.A., Kellam, K.L. (1985). Judging the relatedness of variables: The psychophysics of covariant detection. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 11, 640–649.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lepper, M.R., Ross, L., Lau, R.R. (1986). Persistence of inaccurate beliefs about the self: Perseverance effects in the classroom. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 482–491.

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Lord, C.G. (1980). Schemas and images as memory aids: Two modes of processing social information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38, 257–269.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Lord, C.G, Lepper, M.R, Preston, E. (1984). Considering the opposite: A corrective strategy for social judgment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 1231–1243.

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Lord, C.G., Ross, L., Lepper, M.R. (1979). Biased assimilation and attitude polarization: The effects of prior theories on subsequently considered evidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 2098–2109.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Malamuth, N.M. (1986). Predictors of naturalistic sexual aggression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 953–962.

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • McGuire, W.J. (1968). The nature of attitudes and attitude change. In G. Lindzey, E. Aronson (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology, Vol. 3 (pp. 136–314 ). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Miller, D.T., Ross, M. (1975). Self-serving biases in the attribution of causality: Fact or fiction? Psychological Bulletin, 82, 213–225

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Nisbett, R.E., Ross, L. (1980). Human inference: Strategies and shortcomings. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pryor, J.B. (1986). The influence of different encoding sets upon the formation of illusory correlations and group impressions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 12, 216–226.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Read, S.J. (1987). Constructing causal scenarios: A knowledge structure approach to causal reasoning. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 288–302.

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Rosenthal, R., Jacobson, L. (1968). Pygmalion in the classroom. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ross, L., Anderson, C.A. (1982). Shortcomings in the attribution process: On the origins and maintenance of erroneous social assessments. In D. Kahneman, P. Slovic, A. Tversky (Eds.), Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases (pp. 129–152 ). New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ross, L., Lepper, M.R. (1980). The perseverance of beliefs: Empirical and normative considerations. In R. Shweder, D. Fiske (Eds.), New directions for methodology of social and behavioral science: Fallible judgment in behavioral research, Vol. 4 (pp. 17–36 ). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ross, L., Lepper, M.R., Hubbard, M. (1975). Perseverance in self-perception and social perception: Biased attributional processes in the debriefing paradigm. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 880–892.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ross, L., Lepper, M.R., Strack, F., Steinmetz, J. (1977). Social explanation and social expectation: Effects of real and hypothetical explanations on subjective likelihood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 817–829.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Rothbart, M., Evans, M., Fulero, S. (1979). Recall for confirming events: Memory processes and the maintenance of social stereotypes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 15, 343–355.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sanbonmatsu, D.M., Sherman, S.J., Hamilton, D.L. (1987). Illusory correlation in the perception of individuals and groups. Social Cognition, 5, 1–25.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Schank, R.C., Abelson, R.P. (1977). Scripts, plans, goals, and understanding. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Scully, D., Marolla, J. (1984). Convicted rapists’ vocabulary of motives: Excuses and justifications. Social Problems, 31, 530–544.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sherman, R.T., Anderson, C.A. (1987). Decreasing premature termination from psychotherapy. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 5, 298–312.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Slovic, P., Fischhoff, B. (1977). On the psychology of experimental surprises. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 3, 544–551.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Slusher, M.P., Anderson, C.A. (1987). When reality monitoring fails: The role of imagination in stereotype maintenance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 653–662.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Smedslund, J. (1963). The concept of correlation in adults. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 7, 265–266.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Snyder, M., Swann, W.B. (1978). Behavioral confirmation in social interaction: From social perception to social reality. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 14, 148–162.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Snyder, M., Tanke, E.D., Berscheid, E. (1977). Social perception and interpersonal behavior: On the self-fulfilling nature of social stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35., 656–666.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Snyder, M., Uranowitz, S.W. (1978). Reconstructing the past: Some cognitive conse¬quences of person perception. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 941–950.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Swann, W.B., Ely, R.J. (1984). A battle of wills: Self-verification versus behavioral confirmation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 1287–1302.

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Swann, W.B., Hill, C.A. (1982). When our identities are mistaken: Reaffirming self- conceptions through social interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43, 59–66.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Swann, W.B., Predmore, S.C. (1985). Intimates as agents of social support: Sources of consolation or despair? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49, 1609–1617.

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Swann, W.B., Read, S.J. (1981a). Acquiring self-knowledge: The search for feedback that fits. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41, 1119–1128.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Swann, W.B., Read, S.J. (1981b). Self-verification processes: How we sustain our self- concepts. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 17, 351–372.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Taylor, S.E., Fiske, S.T. (1978). Salience, attention, and attribution: Top of the head phenomena. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, Vol. 11 (pp. 249–288 ). New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Thompson, W.C., Fong, G.T., Rosenhan, D.L. (1981). Inadmissible evidence and juror verdicts. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40, 453–463.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Valins, S. (1974). Persistent effects of information about internal reactions: Ineffectiveness of debriefing. In H. London & R.E. Nisbett (Eds.), Thought and feeling: Cognitive modification of feeling states (pp. 116–124 ). Chicago: Aldine.

    Google Scholar 

  • Walster, E., Berscheid, E., Abrahams, D., Aronson, V. (1967). Effectiveness of debriefing following deception experiments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 6, 371–380.

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Ward, W.C., Jenkins, H.M. (1965). The display of information and the judgment of contingency. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 19, 231–241.

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Weiner, B. (1979). A theory of motivation for some classroom experiences. Journal of Educational Psychology, 71, 3–25.

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Wyer, R.S., Budesheim, T.L. (1987). Person memory and judgments: The impact of information that one is told to disregard. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 14–29.

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Wyer, R.S., Unverzagt, W.H. (1985). The effects of instructions to disregard information on its subsequent recall and use in making judgments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 533–549.

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 1989 Plenum Press, New York

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Slusher, M.P., Anderson, C.A. (1989). Belief Perseverance and Self-Defeating Behavior. In: Curtis, R.C. (eds) Self-Defeating Behaviors. The Plenum Series in Social / Clinical Psychology. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4613-0783-9_2

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4613-0783-9_2

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Boston, MA

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4612-8080-4

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4613-0783-9

  • eBook Packages: Springer Book Archive