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Memorable messages as guides to self-assessment of behavior: an initial investigation

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An investigation of memorable messages as guides to behavior from a Control Theory perspective was conducted. Respondents were asked to recall behaviors that either exceeded or violated their personal expectations for themselves, then to recall the memorable messages that came to mind when self-assessing these behaviors. This method uses the self-assessment of prior behavior as the entry point to a feedback loop. Control Theory predicts that within the feedback loop behaviors should be compared with internal principles that come from memorable messages. This comparison should result in either a positively or negatively valenced evaluation of the behavior if it either exceeds or violates personal standards represented as internal principles. The findings include the categories of behaviors that exceeded or violated personal expectations, the co-participants and the site of the behaviors, the memorable messages, and the sources and the timing of the memorable messages that were recalled during the comparison process. In addition, significant relationships of association were found between the behaviors, their valence, and the memorable messages associated with the self-assessment of behaviors. Thus, it was possible to examine the comparison process of any of the seven classes of behaviors that were found in terms of the memorable messages that respondents recalled when self-assessing these behaviors.
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Keywords: Control Theory; Memorable messages; Self-assessment of Behavior

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Communication at Michigan State University

Publication date: 2001-06-01

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