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The Relationship between Suggestibility and Self-monitoring Report


Abstract

This report presents the survey aimed at examining the link between self-monitoring as measured by the Self-monitoring Scale and suggestibility, which is measured by the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale (GSS). In this study, it is hypothesized that there is a significant difference in the suggestibility scores between the low and high self-monitoring groups.

The study involved 51 participants aged 17-48 years old. The results obtained in this study suggested that there is a significant difference in the suggestibility scores between low and high self-monitors. Furthermore, these findings support previous studies on the same topic.

The studies suggest that high self-monitors are more sensitive to interrogative challenges or suggestibility when compared to low self-monitors. Thus, they are bound to have high suggestibility scores on the GSS than the later. Therefore, there is a statistically significant difference in the suggestibility scores between the two groups.

Introduction

Previous research studies on suggestibility are concerned with investing the factors influencing this psychological concept relative to the results of the two forms of GSS, that is, GSS 1 and 2. Self-monitoring has been identified as the major factor influencing suggestibility in the context of a variety of interviews or interrogations particularly in clinical and forensic interrogative practices (Klein et al., 2004).

Very few such studies have been conducted on university students in order to explore any significant differences in suggestibility among the two levels of self-monitoring.

However, a variety of studies indicate that there is a strong relationship between suggestibility and self-monitoring such that the later influences the various degrees of suggestibility. According to Bain et al. (2006), high self-monitors score highly in almost all the four categories of the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale 1 (GSS 1) relative to low self-monitors. Therefore, self-monitoring entails the practice of paying attention to various personal, situational, and social factors during an interrogative exercise that requires strict memory recall.

The personal and social prompts include various beliefs and values held by various individuals relative to the society’s concern for the correctness of an individual’s actions. On the other hand, suggestibility refers to the degree to which, an individual in an isolated social context, accepts and comprehends the content of a query, which prompts the subsequent behavioral changes and responses categorized as suggestible or resistant. Therefore, suggestibility is dependent on self-monitoring in many aspects.

According to Gudjonsson & Clark (1986), self-monitoring is part of the coping mechanisms developed by the interviewee when exposed to various contextual challenges as a result of interrogative suggestibility. The scholars indicate that under interrogative suggestibility, all interviewees have a general apprehension of the situation in relation to the socially acceptable factors affecting an individual’s behavior.

In this case, self-monitoring plays a major role in creating a defiant or a gullible behavioral rejoinder to the situational characteristics (Gudjonsson, 2003). In addition, a defiant or negative response to the situation is important in determining the degree of suggestibility in different contexts. The negative response alters any previous feedbacks to a given situation thereby allowing the interviewee to alter their current responses and increase their vulnerability to misinformation during questioning.

A recent study investigates the connection between self-monitoring and suggestibility relative to the scores obtained on the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale 1 (GSS 1). The survey employs the self-monitoring scale in measuring the degree to which some individuals relate social prompts to certain situations and their susceptibility to misinformation as recorded on the GSS (Gudjonsson, 1997). The study found out that different individuals can be categorized on the basis of self-monitoring into high and low self-monitors.

The findings of the study indicate that high self-monitors are more susceptible to misinformation contained on the GSS when compared to low self-monitors. This is attributable to high self-monitors being more sensitive to situational prompts and their influence on the socially acceptable actions rather than the content on the GSS. Consequently, high self-monitors are concerned about the situational demands and the social response to their actions more than misinformation on the GSS.

The present research study is aimed at investigating the relationship between suggestibility and self-monitoring on undergraduate psychology students. This population has not been studied in the previous surveys on the same topic.

Therefore, this study will give a detailed report of a group which has not been studied in a while in relation to self-monitoring and suggestibility. In this survey, it is hypothesized that due to the influence of external social prompts, there is a statistically significant difference in the suggestibility scores between the low and high self-monitors.

Method

Design

The survey involved a single independent variable, which was categorized into two, low and high self-monitoring.

Participants

Fifty one undergraduate psychology students were voluntarily recruited into the study. This sample population consisted of 11 Males and 40 Females aged 17-48 years (Mean= 23.58, SD= 8.21).

Materials

Self-monitoring

This refers to the practice of paying attention to various situational demands or prompts, which influence the socially acceptable behavioral changes in different individuals under a given complex or challenging situation. In the present survey, self-monitoring was measured by the Revised Self Monitoring Scale (Lennox & Wolfe, 1982, p. 1).

The scale had 13 tabulated statements and 5 optional answers. In this scale, the participants were required to place an X in the square showing the right answer. Furthermore, the scale comprised of statements such as, “In social situations, I have the ability to alter my behavior if I feel that something else is called for” and “I have the ability to control the way I come across to people, depending on the impression I wish to give them” (Lennox and Wolfe, 1982, p. 1).

Besides the answers to these statements included, “Never,” “Occasionally,” “Sometimes,” “Often,” and “Always” (Lennox & Wolfe, 1982, p. 1). The scale gave a score range of 0-52 in which scores above 30 indicated high self-monitoring and those below 30 indicated low self-monitoring.

Suggestibility

This entails the various challenges or pressures to which the participants are exposed to during questioning. Therefore suggestibility is the degree to which these challenges are bound to influence behavioral changes in the participants, which indicates whether they are high or low self-monitors (Gudjonsson, 1997).

Suggestibility was measured using the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale, which composed of 20 questions derived from a story that was presented to participants orally (Gudjonsson, 1997). Fifteen of the questions in this scale were leading questions, which had misinformation while the remaining five were true implying that they had no misleading information.

The number of suggestive questions answered by an individual indicated the suggestibility score. This scale provided a score range of 0-15 in which higher scores indicated a greater degree of suggestibility. Overall, the equipment used in this survey was a questionnaire, which was employed in two surveys, one involving the written questionnaire and the other involved an oral questionnaire.

Procedure

At the beginning of the survey, the narrative was read to the participants. The participants then filled out a questionnaire on the basic demographic questions and the self-monitoring measures. Subsequently, the participants were asked to answer the 20 questions about the narrative that had been read to them earlier.

In order to allow for measurement of the suggestibility scores, the immediate recall procedure was employed. At the end of the experiment, the participants were debriefed about the nature of the study. The self-monitoring scale provided two scores in which a score is given for the wrongly answered suggestive question. High suggestibility scores indicated high self-monitoring while low scores indicated low self-monitoring.

On the other hand, the GSS measured the memory recall in which the correct score was awarded for the right answer to the questions about the narrative. This was based on the answers being the same as the original idea or meaning contained in the story. High scores indicated a higher vulnerability to suggestibility while low scores indicated lower sensitivity.

Results

According to the scoring protocols describes above, 24 participants were categorized as low self-monitors because they scored lowly in both the self-monitoring scale and on the GSS. On the other hand, 27 participants were categorized as high self-monitors because they scored highly in the two scales.

The mean score for the low self-monitoring group was 5.1833 (SD= 2.00603) and that of the high self-monitoring group was 8.0370 (1.83410). Moreover, an independent-groups t-test showed that there was a statistically significant difference in the suggestibility scores between the low and high self-monitoring groups, scores (t(49) = 20.17, p< 0.001).

Consequently, low suggestibility implies that there was a low tendency for the participants who had low suggestibility scores to pay attention to the situational demands while high suggestibility implies that the degree of sensitivity to situational demands and perceptions was high among the participants who scored high suggestibility scores (Boon & Baxter, 2004).

Discussion

This study was designed to investigate the relationship between self-monitoring and suggestibility. It was hypothesized that there is a statistically significant difference between the low and high self-monitoring groups. The findings of the study confirmed that the hypothesis was correctly stated. It was noted that the high self-monitors had high suggestibility scores compared to the low self-monitors as shown in fig. 1 below.

Fig. 1 Self-monitoring score

Group n Mean Standard Deviation
Low Self-monitors 24 5.1833 2.00603
High Self-Monitors 27 8.0370 1.83410

t-test score (t (49)= 20.17, p<0.001)

The results indicate that high self-monitors are more susceptible to the challenges on the GSS, which include leading questions and negative or defiant responses. Studies indicate that paying attention to various situational and social prompts determines whether an individual will provide an impressionable or resistant feedback to a GSS question (Boon & Baxter, 2004).

Therefore, these individuals tend to treat all the information obtained under different situations relative to the situational and social cues that influence behavioral changes. Additionally, studies indicate that high self-monitors display initial behaviors characterized as being uncertain and success-oriented. Therefore, they are bound to be more attentive to various external social prompts. The findings of the present study support these theories in many aspects.

It is evident that high self-monitors experience higher degrees of uncertainty when faced with complex situations that require them to pay attention to the content rather than their perceptions of the situation. Consequently, these individuals fail to notice misinformation because they are unable to recall. This is contrary to the low self-monitoring groups who are attentive to the content rather than the social cues (Boon & Baxter, 2004).

Despite that the study provides strong evidence showing the link between suggestibility and self-monitoring, a number of limitations are notable. Firstly, the experimental design may not be appropriate in investigating the link between the two concepts. Since the study employed a single independent variable, it is impossible to explore the effect of other external factors on the results obtained.

Therefore, inclusion of additional variables would have made the study statistically sound. Secondly, the sample selected may have been inappropriate and biased. Inclusion of an equal number of males and females would have made the study more practical.

Future studies should include a different experimental design comprising of both independent and dependent variables in addition to an equal number of males and females. This kind of study can allow the experimenter to assess the effect of other factors on the relationship between self-monitoring and suggestibility. Additional studies are also required to determine whether there are any significant differences between boys and girls relative to the relationship between suggestibility and self-monitoring.

Conclusion

The report presents the findings of a survey aimed at investigating the link between suggestibility and self-monitoring among 51 undergraduate psychology students. In this study, the self-monitoring scale and the GSS are used to measure the degree of self-monitoring and suggestibility respectively.

In this study, it is hypothesized that there is a significant difference in suggestibility scores between the low and high self-monitoring groups. From the discussions above, it is indicated that high self-monitors are more susceptible to suggestibility compared to low self-monitors because they scored highly on the GSS. Therefore, it is evident that there is a significant difference in the suggestibility scores between the two groups.a

Reference List

Bain, S.A., Baxter, J.S. & Ballantyne, K. (2007). Self-monitoring style and levels of

interrogative suggestibility. Personality and Individual Differences, 42, 623-630. Boon, J. C. W., & Baxter, J. S. (2004). Minimizing extraneous, interviewer-based interrogative suggestibility. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 9(2), 229–238. Gudjonsson, G. H. (1997). The Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scales Manual. Hove:

Psychology Press. Gudjonsson, G. H. (2003). The Psychology of Interrogations and Confessions: a Handbook. Chichester: Wiley. Gudjonsson, G. H., & Clark, N. K. (1986). Suggestibility in police interrogation: A social

psychological model. Social Behavior, 1, 83–104. Klein, O., Snyder, M., & Livingston, R. W. (2004). Prejudice on the stage: Self monitoring and the public expression of group attitudes. British Journal of Social

Psychology, 43(2), 299–314. Lennox, R.D. & Wolfe, R.N. (1982). Concern for appropriateness as a moderator variable in the statistical explanation of self-reported use of alcohol and marijuana. Journal of Personality, 53(1), 1-16.

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IvyPanda. (2019, May 6). The Relationship between Suggestibility and Self-monitoring. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-relationship-between-suggestibility-and-self-monitoring/

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IvyPanda. "The Relationship between Suggestibility and Self-monitoring." May 6, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-relationship-between-suggestibility-and-self-monitoring/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "The Relationship between Suggestibility and Self-monitoring." May 6, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-relationship-between-suggestibility-and-self-monitoring/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Relationship between Suggestibility and Self-monitoring'. 6 May.

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