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Belief Perseverance and Self-Defeating Behavior

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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.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Missouri-ColumbiaColumbiaUSA

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