CiteWeb id: 19540000000

CiteWeb score: 12163

DOI: 10.1177/001872675400700202

Hypothesis I: There exists, in the human organism, a drive to evaluate his opinions and his abilities. While opinions and abilities may, at first glance, seem to be quite different things, there is a close functional tie between them. They act together in the manner in which they affect behavior. A person’s cognition (his opinions and beliefs) about the situation in which he exists and his appraisals of what he is capable of doing (his evaluation of his abilities) will together have bearing on his behavior. The holding of incorrect opinions and/or inaccurate appraisals of one’s abilities can be punishing or even fatal in many situations. It is necessary, before we proceed, to clarify the distinction between opinions and evaluations of abilities since at first glance it may seem that one’s evaluation of one’s own ability is an opinion about it. Abilities are of course manifested only through performance which is assumed to depend upon the particular ability. The clarity of the manifestation or performance can vary from instances where there is no clear ordering criterion of the ability to instances where the performance which reflects the ability can be clearly ordered. In the former case, the evaluation of the ability does function like other opinions which are not directly testable in “objective reality’. For example, a person’s evaluation of his ability to write poetry will depend to a large extent on the opinions which others have of his ability to write poetry. In cases where the criterion is unambiguous and can be clearly ordered, this furnishes an objective reality for the evaluation of one’s ability so that it depends less on the opinions of other persons and depends more on actual comparison of one’s performance with the performance of others. Thus, if a person evaluates his running ability, he will do so by comparing his time to run some distance with the times that other persons have taken. In the following pages, when we talk about evaluating an ability, we shall mean specifically the evaluation of that ability in situations where the performance is unambiguous and is known. Most situations in real life will, of course, present situations which are a mixture of opinion and ability evaluation. In a previous article (7) the author posited the existence of a drive to determine whether or not one’s opinions were “correct”. We are here stating that this same drive also produces behavior in people oriented toward obtaining an accurate appraisal of their abilities. The behavioral implication of the existence of such a drive is that we would expect to observe behaviour on the part of persons which enables them to ascertain whether or not their opinions are correct and also behavior which enables them accurately to evaluate their abilities. It is consequently

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