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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2005 Oct;31(10):1347-57.

Individual differences in motivated social cognition: the case of self-serving information processing.

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  • 1School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.


Three experiments examined the hypothesis that people show consistency in motivated social cognitive processing across self-serving domains. Consistent with this hypothesis, Experiment 1 revealed that people who rated a task at which they succeeded as more important than a task at which they failed also cheated on a series of math problems, but only when they could rationalize their cheating as unintentional. Experiment 2 replicated this finding and demonstrated that a self-report measure of self-deception did not predict this rationalized cheating. Experiment 3 replicated Experiments 1 and 2 and ruled out several alternative explanations. These experiments suggest that people who show motivated processing in ego-protective domains also show motivated processing in extrinsic domains. These experiments also introduce a new measurement procedure for differentiating between intentional versus rationalized cheating.

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