SOCIAL COMPARISON AND DISSONANCE REDUCTION IN SELF-EVALUATION.
Technical rept. no. 9 on Dynamics of Social Influence,
CALIFORNIA UNIV LOS ANGELES
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Students were asked to estimate 1 what score they would obtain on an examination and 2 their minimal goal the lowest score with which they would be satisfied. Data from a total of 760 students are analyzed to determine the bases of self-evaluation. Members of one class received no information before making evaluations. Members of a second class were given a score presumably made by pre-medical students, before these respondents made their estimates on each exam. Members of a third class were given no information on the first exam on the second exam, half were given presumed scores of male pre-med students, half were given scores of female education students. Contrary to suggestions by Rotter 1954, it was found that minimal goals were no more resistant to change than expected scores. Changes in minimal goals and expected scores tended to occur so as to minimize discrepancies, thus reduce dissonance in accordance with Festingers theory 1957. Individuals self-evaluations are influenced by reference norms, but only in the absence of a more objective criterion for self-evaluation, such as knowledge of previous performance. Author