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Social Judgment Theory

 

Explanations > Theories > Social Judgment Theory

Description | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

Given a range of possible positions about given subject, people may have a range of opinions, but will have an anchor position. As this is often tied to people’s sense of identity, it is seldom possible to change it.

The latitude of acceptance are those positions which are acceptable. The latitude of non-commitment are those positions which are neither accepted nor rejected. The latitude of rejection are positions which will be actively opposed.

The five principles of Social Judgment Theory are:

  1. We have categories of judgment by which we evaluate persuasive arguments.
  2. When we receive persuasive information, we use our categories of judgment to assess it.
  3. Our level of ego-involvement affects the size of our latitudes.
  4. We generally distort incoming information to fit our categories of judgment.
  5. Small or moderate differences between our anchor positions and the one being proposed will cause us to change. Large discrepancies will not.

Example

Opinions on punishment for murder range from required therapy to mandatory capital punishment. If a friend was murdered, I would prefer life imprisonment, would not object to capital punishment, but would object strongly to any non-custodial action.

So what?

Using it

Find the other person’s preferred position, aim not to stray out of their latitude of acceptance and certainly not into their latitude of rejection. Also avoid denting their ego.

Defending

Know your own preferred position and latitudes. Go outside them carefully and thoughtfully.

See also

Anchoring and Adjustment Heuristic, Social Impact Theory

http://www.as.wvu.edu/~sbb/comm221/chapters/judge.htm

References

Sherif and Sherif (1967), Sherif, Sherif and Nebergall (1965)

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