The modulating role of self-posed questions in repeated choice

Integral and incidental questions can increase or decrease behavioral rigidity

Sophie Lohmann, Christopher R. Jones, Dolores Albarracin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Simple, self-posed questions may modulate behavioral repetition of choices in situations that are neither fully habitual nor fully intentional. In six experiments, participants were trained to repeatedly choose their preferred door out of an array of three doors. Questions generally increased speed in the upcoming task, supporting past findings that even exposure to question-like syntax can enhance performance. More importantly, affirmatively phrased questions like Which one should I choose?, framed either as an instruction to make the choice or as material unrelated to the study, produced more choice repetition than presenting either no question at all or a control question. In contrast, negatively phrased questions like Which one should I not choose? decreased behavior repetition. These effects allowed efficient and fast responding and thus showed features of automaticity. These findings imply that self-talk questions can affect choices in various domains of interest to social, clinical, educational, and health psychology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103840
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume85
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

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Educational Psychology
Behavioral Medicine
Clinical Psychology
Social Psychology
rigidity
syntax
psychology
instruction
experiment
health
performance

Keywords

  • Decision making
  • Inner speech
  • Motivation
  • Self-talk
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

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abstract = "Simple, self-posed questions may modulate behavioral repetition of choices in situations that are neither fully habitual nor fully intentional. In six experiments, participants were trained to repeatedly choose their preferred door out of an array of three doors. Questions generally increased speed in the upcoming task, supporting past findings that even exposure to question-like syntax can enhance performance. More importantly, affirmatively phrased questions like Which one should I choose?, framed either as an instruction to make the choice or as material unrelated to the study, produced more choice repetition than presenting either no question at all or a control question. In contrast, negatively phrased questions like Which one should I not choose? decreased behavior repetition. These effects allowed efficient and fast responding and thus showed features of automaticity. These findings imply that self-talk questions can affect choices in various domains of interest to social, clinical, educational, and health psychology.",
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