The Unpacking Effect in Evaluative Judgments: When the Whole is Less than the Sum of its Parts
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 39, pp. 263–269, 2003
7 Pages Posted: 31 May 2012
Date Written: 2003
Any category or event can be described in more or less detail. Although these different descriptions can reflect the same event objectively, they may not reflect the same event subjectively. Research on Support Theory led us to predict that more detailed descriptions would produce more extreme evaluations of categories or events than less detailed descriptions. Four experiments demonstrated this unpacking effect when people were presented with (Experiments 1 and 4), generated (Experiment 2), or were primed with (Experiment 3) more rather than less detailed descriptions of events. This effect was diminished when the details were less personally relevant (Experiment 4). We discuss several psychological mechanisms, moderators, and extensions of the unpacking effect.
Keywords: Evaluation, Support theory, Unpacking effect
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