Expectations and belief-updating in social judgments
In professional and personal life, individuals often need to adjust their own beliefs and knowledge from the advice and feedback other persons provide. When meeting someone new, for instance, we learn from praise or criticism how much our new acquaintance likes us. Individuals differ in how successfully they revise their initial beliefs. Belief revision may fail because individuals initially hold wrong prior beliefs, or because they are resistant to change their beliefs, or both. For instance, individuals in poor mental health may detect faster that another person dislikes them because they initially hold a negative self-image or because they learn faster from negative feedback. In such social evaluation learning situations, previous research has emphasized the role of learning, but paid less attention to prior beliefs. Here, I demonstrate first that initial prior beliefs are often quickly formed and have lasting effects on subsequent learning. Similarly, a subsequent reanalysis of social evaluation learning studies indicates that an initial positive or negative self-image explains better than learning speed why some individuals appear to learn faster who appreciates them. Further, initial beliefs correlate predictably with psychopathological traits. I discuss problems in current methodology and future directions in advice taking.