Using a computerized mixed-motive negotiation task, the present study examined the differential effects of behavioral prediction versus impression formation goals on the integration of social information in an ongoing interactive context. In these negotiations, subjects were instructed either to predict the other's negotiating behavior or to form an impression of the other negotiator. In a control group, no observational instructions were given. Subjects' cognitive integration of their expectations, perceptions, and negotiation behaviors were examined using path analytic procedures. The path analyses indicated that the behavioral prediction goal resulted in the behavioral interaction forming the basis of subjects' concurrent perceptions of the other negotiator, which did not subsequently affect subjects' own behavior. As expected, there was also greater variability in subjects' perceptions over time relative to impression formation subjects. The impression formation goal resulted in a high degree of integration between negotiation behaviors and perceptions. This observational goal appeared to promote an early consolidation of perceptions and a continuing, cyclical influence between perceptions and behavior. Finally, the perceptions of subjects in the control group were primarily based on expectations and prior perceptions; their behavior was highly ritualistic, and their perceptions were equally as variable as those of the behavioral prediction group. The contribution of these results to the literature on observational goals is discussed, and the need to examine the effects of observational goals on the pattern of responses in ongoing social interactions is emphasized.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Carleton University

Matheson, K, Holmes, J.G. (John G), & Kristiansen, C.M. (1991). Observational goals and the integration of trait perceptions and behavior: Behavioral prediction versus impression formation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 27(2), 138–160. doi:10.1016/0022-1031(91)90019-3