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Contrast Effects

Definition

Most judgments in everyday life are evaluative in nature. People may want to know whether a particular grade is good or bad, whether a person is trustworthy, how well someone performed on a test, or what a person's athletic abilities are like. Rarely can such questions be answered in absolute terms (e.g., running 1 mile in 5 minutes). Rather than absolute, judgments are usually relative and result from comparisons. That is, judgments are mostly evaluations of a target with respect to some comparison standard. For example, having a C in a class is considered very differently depending on whether everybody else has an A or whether all others failed. Moreover, the C is evaluated very differently depending on whether an A or a D was ...

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