chology. He noted 11 social-psychological constructs that had undergone reformulation from an individual differences perspective (e.g., self-consciousness;, Duval & Wicklund, 1972; Wicklund, 1975; the need for uniqueness; Fromkin, 1972; Snyder & Fromkin, 1977; the belief in a just world; Lerner & Simmons, 1966; Rubin & Peplau, 1975). This interactionist perspective was thought to reduce the variance left unaccounted for in traditional social-psychological paradigms, and thus to better approximate real-world phenomena (Blass, 1984; Bowers, 1973; Ekehammer, 1974; Endler & Magnusson, 1976). The PNS and PFI measures continue this tradition by addressing individual difference factors that may affect and interact with knowledge-seeking and decisionmaking processes in important ways.
In the introduction of this chapter, we summarized two philosophical positions concerning the seeking of knowledge. The associationist school emphasized the seeking of some ultimate objective truth, whereas the pragmatist view suggested that people would be content applying a satisficing rule (see Payne, Bettman, & Johnson, 1993; Simon, 1982) of knowledge seeking. The perspective we present here corroborates the approach of dual processing models in reconciling the philosophical distinctions of the associationist and pragmatist schools. In the present case, we would characterize these distinctions as reflecting stable knowledge-seeking orientations captured by the personal need for structure and the personal fear of invalidity scales—orientations that are both implicated in a more comprehensive overarching epistemological process.
These measures also speak to the broader issue of whether humans are essentially cognitive or motivational beings. Advocates of synergism propose a dynamic interreliance between motivation and cognition: Attempts to ascribe primacy to one or the other system fail to do justice to this intricate relationship (see Sorrentino & Higgins, 1986). In this vein, Tetlock and Levi (1982) suggested that determining “how people reconcile their desires with their beliefs about the world” (p. 84) reflects a truer, pluralistic view of human nature. This is precisely what our measures attempt to do by (a) detailing cognitive activities in their focus on knowledge structures (i.e., cognitions), and (b) by delineating important motivational moderators of this process. Thus, ultimately we offer the PNS and PFI scales as useful tools in undertakings that seek to reveal the ways in which people come to understand many aspects of their world, and detailing the mechanisms by which tentative hypotheses become transformed into unquestioned beliefs and facts.
This research was supported by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada doctoral fellowships to Megan M. Thompson and Michael E. Naccarato, and a Natural Science and Engineering Research Council Visiting Scientist in Canadian Government Laboratory Postdoctoral fellowship to Megan M. Thompson. We thank Joseph Baranski and Luigi Pasto for the helpful comments on earlier drafts of this chapter. We are indebted to Steve Neuberg for his guidance and encouragement in the completion of this work.