Generalized and specific expectancies: Sequential mediators of interpersonal behavior1


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    . We want to thank the following experimenters who carried out the procedures for Experiment 1: Kent Crockett, Cheryl Dickey, Marilyn Farcase, Dale Hubbard, Robert Jones, and Brooks Wall. Also important was the valuable assistance of Don Taylor and Michael Mishkin in conducting the data analyses. Finally, special gratitude is expressed to Drs. Melvin J. Kimmel and Edward J. Rickert for insightful and constructive criticism of an earlier draft of this article.

  • The studies reported in this article were supported by University College Faculty Research Grants #80-9735 and #80-9829, University of Alabama in Birmingham.

. Requests for reprints should be sent to J. Curtis Russell, Psychology Department, University of Alabama in Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294.


Two experiments confirmed sequential mediation of social interaction by investigating the effects of generalized expectancies on specific expectancies and the effects of specific expectancies on performance. Both experiments used a simulated tutoring task in which the subject took the role of tutor while a confederate took the role of student. In Experiment 1 subjects combined generalized expectancies about the effectiveness of certain tutoring responses with specific situational information to produce specific expectancies about the results of the tutoring responses under the experimental circumstances. Experiment 2 replicated this finding and showed that specific expectancies of the relative effectiveness of different responses influenced which response was performed more. Results were discussed in terms of cognitive motivation theory and social learning theory.