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Male and female introductory psychology students who held either favorable, unfavorable, or moderate attitudes toward legalized abortion judged a series of pro or con abortion statements on response scales which were either evaluatively congruent or incongruent with subject attitude. Accentuation theory predicts that when attitude, statement favorability and the response scale are congruent, subjects will accentuate the difference between acceptable and unacceptable statements. This theory also suggests that the judgments of the acceptable and unacceptable statements will be less variable in the congruent than in the incongruent condition. Upshaw's variable-perspective theory and Sherif's social judgment theory both predict (but for different reasons) an inverse relationship between subject judgments and the favorability of the attitude statements. Variable-perspective theory also suggests more variability in the congruent than the incongruent scale condition. A significant interaction between attitude, statement favorability and the congruency of the response scale gave considerable support to the accentuation theory position, suggesting that the evaluative implications of the response language serves as a discriminative cue leading to more polarized judgments of the attitude statements.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1978-01-01

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