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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1979 Dec;37(12):2297-306.

Avoidance of the handicapped: an attributional ambiguity analysis.


We demonstrated a general strategy for detecting motives that people wish to conceal. The strategy consists of having people choose between two alternatives, one of which happens to satisfy the motive. By counterbalancing which one does so, it is possible to distill the motive by examining the pattern of choices that people make. The motive used in the demonstration is the desire we believe most people have to avoid the physically handicapped. Because they do not wish to reveal this desire, we predicted that they would be more likely to act on it if they could appear to choose on some other basis. In two studies we found that people avoided the handicapped more often if the decision to do so was also a decision between two movies and avoidance of the handicapped could masquerade as a movie preference.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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