Information-gathering strategies in hypothesis-testing

Yaacov Trope, Miriam Bassok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Three experiments were conducted to investigate the informational factors affecting the kinds of questions people ask for testing a hypothesis about another's personality. In Experiment 1, subjects formulated by themselves questions to test either the hypothesis that the interviewee is polite or the hypothesis that he is impolite. The boundary of the hypothesis was set either at an extreme or at an intermediate point on the trait dimension. Experiment 2 also varied the location of the boundary, but the hypotheses concerned extroversion-introversion and subjects chose questions from a predetermined list of questions that asked either about extroverted features or introverted features and that were either low or high in diagnostic value. Both studies found that subjects preferred to ask about features that are consistent with the hypothesis only when the boundary was extreme. In contrast, diagnostic features were preferred in all conditions. Experiment 3 showed that subjects' judgment of the diagnosticity of the various kinds of questions for discriminating at different boundaries paralleled subjects' preferences among these questions. These results were interpreted as providing support for the diagnostic strategy in social information gathering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)560-576
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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