The effect of action and inaction goals on the use of internal and external expectations
Jackson, Janine Michelle
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Research consistent with the placebo effect demonstrates that expectations congruently influence perceptions and judgments of an experience (Price, Chung, & Robinson, 2005). Furthermore, expectations usually come from either external sources such as provided or situational information or internal sources such as prior experience with the stimuli (Stewart-Williams, 2004). Additionally, primes affect how external expectations influence an experience (Geers et al., 2005; Yosai et al., 2012). Internal expectations are similar to pre-existing attitudes, and action and inaction primes affect whether pre-existing attitudes affect attitude change (Albarracín & Handley, 2011). Given this, action and inaction goals should also influence the extent to which internal and external expectations affect perception of an experience. In a reported experiment, participants initially did or did not experience irritating noise blasts, and were then primed with action, inaction, or neutral goals. Participants then received information that a change in a computer screen color would produce calming affects, or they were told the color was a screen saver. All participants then experienced and rated a final set of noise blasts. Other dependent measures were also included that assessed evaluations of the information manipulation and comparative ratings of the stimuli. For individuals with relevant screen information and prior experience, it was predicted that action goals would increase the influence of the internal expectation on perception, and inaction primes would decrease the influence of the internal expectation on perception. For individuals with relevant screen information and no prior experience, action primes should increase the influence of the external expectation on perception, and inaction primes will decrease the influence of the external expectation. Inaction primes had the predicted effects on evaluations of the information manipulation, but not on direct ratings of the sounds or comparative ratings of the stimuli. Inaction inhibited the influence of the relevant external expectation in the prior experience group, and also inhibited the influence of the internal expectations in the prior experience-relevant information group. These results provide support for the conclusion that action and inaction primes influence the use of internal or external expectations in the interpretation of an experience. Future research and other implications are discussed.