Difficulty and diagnosticity as determinants of choice among tasks

Yaacov Trope, Philip Brickman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Performed a Bayesian analysis of attributions of ability made from success or failure. If people are primarily interested in maximizing the information they gain about themselves, they should prefer easy or hard tasks to moderate difficulty ones when the easy or the hard tasks are made more diagnostic of their true ability. If people are primarily interested in maximizing the simple expected value of success, they should prefer intermediate difficulty tasks regardless of diagnosticity. Data from 120 male undergraduates strongly support the idea that diagnosticity is the major determinant of preference among achievement tasks and suggests that it should be a basic parameter in all research on self- and social attribution. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)918-925
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 1975



  • diagnosticity &
  • difficulty, choice of achievement tasks, male college students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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