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Interpersonal expectancy effects research focuses on how one individual’s expectations influence another individual’s behavior. Also known as self-fulfilling prophecies, interpersonal expectancy effects have been shown to be a significant phenomenon in human interaction. Assessments of participants’ behavior during the interaction (e.g., time spent talking) and perceptions (e.g., self-report items reflecting participants’ liking for each other) revealed that prior expectations affected buyer-seller interactions. Thus, as Arthur Miller mentioned not smiling back means a real earthquake.
During the course of daily lives, individuals encounter a multitude of objects. In fact, they are bombarded by a diverse array of stimuli and forced to make innumerable decisions about which to approach and which to avoid. These stimuli include not only such physical objects as foods, clothing, and toys but also other people, events, and activities (Furnham 1999, 44). Moreover, societal matters, as well as conversations with others, often require that individuals adopt a position regarding various social and political issues. Thus, merely proceeding through a day involves individuals making a continuous series of choices based on their appraisals of objects (Furnham 1999, 23).
When considered in this way, daily existence appears to be astoundingly burdensome. One can readily imagine an individual who is paralyzed by the need to assess and then weigh the pros and cons of the choice alternatives for each successive decision. Yet, few people – at least not those who can be considered mentally healthy – experience day-to-day life as so phenomenologically troublesome. How do we manage
We are extremely adaptive creatures who have the capacity to learn from experience. We have memory for these experiences. We develop and remember vast storehouses of knowledge regarding the attributes that characterize the objects, people, issues, and events that we either encounter directly or learn about indirectly from others. As helpful as this knowledge base might be, however, it represents only an initial step toward individuals’ successful coping with the multitude of stimuli that impinge on them. Having knowledge regarding a given object available in memory provides a basis for choice, but still requires that individuals engage in extensive and effortful deliberation. They must retrieve the relevant stored information, consider its implications for approach or avoidance, and integrate those implications into a final judgment (Clarke 1998, 404).
Although individuals unquestionably engage in such deliberation at times, even these processes do not seem to capture the ease with which individuals typically function in their daily lives. People do not simply acquire knowledge about the objects in their social world. Instead, individuals employ this knowledge – be it information about the positively and negatively valued attributes of the object, about their past behavioral experiences with the object, and/or about emotions that the object has evoked in the past–as the basis for forming for an attitude toward, or summary evaluation of, the object (Maio &. Olson 2000, 359). In other words, individuals categorize objects along an evaluative dimension.