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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1976 Nov;34(5):830-6.

Frequency perception of individual and group successes as a function of competition, coaction, and isolation.


The frequency perception of successful and unsuccessful outcomes obtained in serial tasks was investigated in two experiments. Subjects were assigned to serial tasks in which the outcome stimuli ("right" and "wrong") immediately followed subjects' responses to each task item. Subjects' perceptual judgment about the number of "rights and wrongs" obtained was requested at the end of the serial task (incidental event perception). In Experiment 1, subjects performing in groups of four were compared with individual performers both in competing and noncompeting (coacting) conditions. In Experiment 2, the influence of verbal communication and competition versus isolation was examined. Significant and predicted differences in frequeency perception were found (a) in group performers as compared with individual performers, (b) in groups with verbal communication as compared with groups without verbal communication, and (c) in competing groups as compared with noncompeting, especially isolated, groups. The frequency perception of success is discussed in the context of impression formation processes, and its impact on person perception and learning is mentioned. A tentative explanation in terms of affective and cognitive processes related to social interaction is submitted.

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