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    People who say they know it all: The influence of interviewers’ authority on the suggestibility of over-claimers

    Chung, Kai Li (2013) People who say they know it all: The influence of interviewers’ authority on the suggestibility of over-claimers. University of Strathclyde. (Unpublished)


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    Interrogative suggestibility may vary as a function of interviewer’s apparent authority. This study examined individual differences in sensitivity to authority figures, focusing on non-clinical narcissism and suggestibility. As narcissists are more inclined to have a “kiss up, kick down” behaviour pattern, their suggestibility may be influenced by interviewer prestige. Narcissism is a consistent predictor of over-claiming; hence the Over-claiming Questionnaire (OCQ) was used as a measure for non-clinical narcissism. Suggestibility of over-claimers (N = 30) and under-claimers (N = 30) was assessed using the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale 1 (GSS1). During the administration of the GSS1, the interviewer’s apparent authority was manipulated by varying how she presented herself. It was hypothesised that participants who have high OCQ response bias indices (over-claimers) will display more suggestible tendencies, and therefore obtain higher GSS1 scores when faced with interviewers of higher prestige compared to those with low OCQ response bias indices (under-claimers). Results analysed using MANOVA showed that under-claimers generally scored significantly higher in Total Suggestibility. The main effect of interviewer’s apparent authority was non-significant. Over-claimers tested in the low interviewer prestige condition gained lower Shift scores than under-claimers. Such results are consistent with the notion that Shift is primarily based on sensitivity to interpersonal pressure. It is also suggested that the varying levels of self-esteem in over-claimers are the basis of their unique ways of responding to suggestions by authority figures.

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