Cognition and Social Information-Gathering Strategies Reinterpretation Assessment in Second-Guessing

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Abstract

Effective social decision making often depends upon gathering needed information. Since the kind and quality of information obtained depends on the tactics used to gain it, the study of information-gathering tactics is of prime importance in understanding the processes of social decision making. We focused on one facet of information-gathering—the cognitive process of second-guessing developed by Hewes and Planalp (1982). We developed and tested a theory of reinterpretation assessment that explores the relationship between second-guessing and the use of social information-gathering tactics. Four of the five principles on which this theory is based are tested empirically. They concern the effects of motivational (need for accuracy), cognitive (processing load), and practical (social effort) antecedents on the tactics employed by social actors to improve subjectively the quality of their reinterpretations of messages. Moderate support is garnered for all four principles. Some challenging anomalies result in modifications of the theory.

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