Stefan Schulz-Hardt, Frank Vogelgesang, Felix Pfeiffer, Andreas Mojzisch and Birgit Thurow-Kröning

When forewarning backfires: Paradoxical effects of elaborating social feedback on entrapment in a losing course of action.

Journal of Behavioral Decision Making

Entrapment occurs if people persist with losing courses of action. In two experiments, we show how elaborating social feedback (i.e., premature praise or forewarning regarding the chosen course of action) can have paradoxical effects on entrapment. The participants acted as head of a translation department and had to choose one out of four possible translation strategies for their employees. After choosing, they read four arguments (presumably written by former participants) which were either all in favor of the strategy chosen, all against it, or mixed. Half of the participants only read these arguments, whereas the other half elaborated on them by providing written comments (Experiment 1). The results showed that elaborating on other persons' arguments led to stronger entrapment, independently of whether the arguments were positive or negative. This pattern was due to biased argument processing: Whereas confirming thoughts were generated for positive arguments, negative arguments were refuted. Experiment 2 confirmed that this biased argument processing caused subsequent entrapment. These results indicate that elaborating any type of argument can lead to heightened entrapment and, hence, forewarning can backfire. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Accession Number: 53916812; Schulz-Hardt, Stefan 1; Email Address:; Vogelgesang, Frank 1; Pfeiffer, Felix 1; Mojzisch, Andreas 1; Thurow-Kröning, Birgit 2; Affiliations: 1: Institute of Psychology, Georg-August-University, Goettingen, Germany.; 2: Department of Psychology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany.; Issue Info: Oct2010, Vol. 23 Issue 4, p404; Thesaurus Term: Decision making; Subject Term: Employee psychology; Subject Term: Feedback (Psychology); Subject Term: Human behavior; Subject Term: Military strategy; Author-Supplied Keyword: biased information processing; Author-Supplied Keyword: entrapment; Author-Supplied Keyword: escalation of commitment; Author-Supplied Keyword: social evaluation; Number of Pages: 17p; Illustrations: 2 Graphs; Document Type: Article