The cognitive impact of past behavior: Influences on beliefs, attitudes, and future behavioral decisions

Dolores Albarracín, Robert S. Wyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

To study the processes by which past behavior influences future behavior, participants were led to believe that without being aware of it, they had expressed either support for or opposition to the institution of comprehensive exams. Judgment and response time data suggested that participants' perceptions of their past behavior often influenced their decisions to repeat the behavior. This influence was partly the result of cognitive activity that influenced participants' cognitions about specific behavioral consequences and the attitude they based on these cognitions. More generally, however, feedback about past behavior had a direct effect on participants' attitudes and ultimate behavioral decisions that was independent of the outcome-specific cognitions. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for biased scanning of memory, dissonance reduction, self-perception, and the use of behavior as a heuristic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-22
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume79
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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