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Selective exposure to deserved outcomes

Harvey, AJ and Callan, MJ and Sutton, RM and Foulsham, T and Matthews, WJ (2017) 'Selective exposure to deserved outcomes.' Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 69. 33 - 43. ISSN 0022-1031

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Abstract

© 2016 Elsevier Inc. Research has shown that people often reinterpret their experiences of others’ harm and suffering to maintain the functional belief that people get what they deserve (e.g., by blaming the victim). Rather than focusing on such reactive responses to harm and suffering, across 7 studies we examined whether people selectively and proactively choose to be exposed to information about deserved rather than undeserved outcomes. We consistently found that participants selectively chose to learn that bad (good) things happened to bad (good) people (Studies 1 to 7)—that is, they selectively exposed themselves to deserved outcomes. This effect was mediated by the perceived deservingness of outcomes (Studies 2 and 3), and was reduced when participants learned that wrongdoers otherwise received “just deserts” for their transgressions (Study 7). Participants were not simply selectively avoiding information about undeserved outcomes but actively sought information about deserved outcomes (Studies 3 and 4), and participants invested effort in this pattern of selective exposure, seeking out information about deserved outcomes even when it was more time-consuming to find than undeserved outcomes (Studies 5 and 6). Taken together, these findings cast light on a more proactive, anticipatory means by which people maintain a commitment to deservingness.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2016 14:29
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2019 18:16
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/17767

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