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Social Judgement Theory Essay

946 words - 4 pages

ocial judgment theory (SJT) is a persuasion theory proposed by Carolyn Sherif, Muzafer Sherif, and Carl Hovland,[1] defined by Sherif and Sherif as the perception and evaluation of an idea by comparing it with current attitudes. According to this theory, an individual weighs every new idea, comparing it with the individual's present point of view to determine where it should be placed on the attitude scale[2] in an individual's mind. SJT is the subconscious sorting out of ideas that occurs at the instant of perception.

Social judgment theory arose from Egon Brunswik's probabilistic functionalist psychology and his lens model, which are socio-psychological theories.[3] It also comes from ...view middle of the document...

The researchers discovered that, when a standard was provided for comparison, the participants categorized the objects relative to the aspects of the standard.
For example, if a very heavy object was used as the standard in assessing weight, then the other objects would be judged to be relatively lighter than if a very light object was used as the standard. The standard is referred to as an "anchor". This work involving physical objects was applied to psychosocial work, in which a participant's limits of acceptability on social issues are studied.[5][6] Social issues include areas such as religion and politics.
Rooted in judgment theory, which is concerned with the discrimination and categorization of stimuli, it attempts to explain how attitudes are expressed, judged, and modified.[7] A judgment occurs when a person compares at least two stimuli and makes a choice about them. With regard to social stimuli specifically, judgment processes incorporate both past experiences and present circumstances.[8] Sherif et al. (1965) defined attitudes as "the stands the individual upholds and cherishes about objects, issues, persons, groups, or institutions" (p. 4).[6] Researchers must infer attitudes from behavior. The behavior can be in response to arranged or naturally occurring stimuli.[5][9] True attitudes are fundamental to self-identity and are complex, and thus can be difficult to change.

Social judgment theory also illustrates how people compare their personal positions on issues to other people’s positions. Individuals hold both a personal position on an issue and latitudes of what they think is acceptable or unacceptable in general for other people.[4] Social attitudes are not cumulative, especially regarding issues where the attitude is extreme.[6] This means that a person may not agree with less extreme stands relative to his or her position, even...

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