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Male and female introductory psychology students who held extreme attitudes toward legalized abortion judged the favorability of attitude statements on that issue. Both Sherif's social judgment theory and Helson's adaptation-level theory suggest an inverse relationship between judgment and subject attitude. Accentuation theory predicts that statement ratings reflect the congruency between attitude, value connotations of the rating scale, and the extremity of the attitude statements. To test these predictions, subjects judged an initial triad consisting of either two pro or two con abortion statements plus a moderate abortion statement. The pro or con contexts were alternated over the nine trials with the moderate statement appearing in the third position. Subjects with favorable attitudes evidenced favorable judgments of the moderate and pro statements and unfavorable judgments of the con statements. By comparison, subjects with unfavorable attitudes were less extreme in their evaluations of the attitude statements. Judgments of the statements were shown to be largely inconsistent with predictions from social judgment theory and adaptation-level theory, but consistent with accentuation theory.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1976-01-01

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