Why does behavioral confirmation occur? a functional perspective on the role of the perceiver

Mark Snyder, Julie A. Haugen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


This study employed a functional analysis of the perceiver′s role in the behavioral confirmation process to investigate the motivations being served by the activities of the perceiver that generate behavioral confirmation. Male perceivers engaged in telephone conversations with female targets believed to be (on the basis of randomly assigned photographs) either obese or normal weight. In a "basic" interaction (in which they just conversed), a situation was created in which no behavioral confirmation occurred. When the knowledge function of acquiring stable and predictable social impressions through interaction was engaged for perceivers, perceptual and behavioral confirmation occurred (i.e., significant differences that reflected stereotyped assumptions about the attributes of obese and normal-weight women occurred between targets believed to be obese and those believed to be of normal weight, both in perceivers′ perceptions of targets and in targets′ actual behavior), but not when the adjustive function of ensuring a smooth and coordinated interaction by being responsive to one′s partner was engaged. Implications for understanding the motivational foundations of behavioral confirmation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-246
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1994

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