Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation investigated whether improvement can sometimes increase the likelihood that the recipient will use increasingly more coercive actions to attempt to obtain further improvement from the giver. It also investigated how it would do so. The source of the research question was a paradoxical real-life phenomenon, that of improvement sometimes preceding such extreme actions as revolutions and strikes.;Two studies were performed in which subjects worked on tasks, received pay from a fictitious manager, and communicated with the manager about the pay. In study 1, there was evidence that large and small improvement increased contentment and decreased perceived strength. Their effects on aspiration level were not clear. There was evidence that large improvement decreased perceived conflict and that small improvement increased it, though the latter only among males. Finally, there was evidence that large improvement decreased escalation likelihood and that small improvement increased it.;It was proposed that the mixed results regarding small improvement's effects on perceived conflict may have been due to small improvement having different short and long term effects on perceived conflict. Study 2 tested whether a short series of small improvements decreased perceived conflict and thereby escalation likelihood, and whether a long series increased both. The results of study 2 replicated those of study 1, except that small improvement's effect on contentment was not clear. Also, there was evidence that both large and small improvement increased aspiration level. Small improvement did not have different short and long term effects on perceived conflict, but there was other evidence that as in study 1 a long series of small improvements increased perceived conflict among males and decreased it among females. There were no differences between the short and long term effects of small improvement on contentment, aspiration level or perceived strength. However, there was evidence that the short series of small improvements decreased escalation likelihood and the long series of small improvements increased it. Thus, the present research demonstrated that long term small improvement received in response to active seeking leads to the escalation of instrumental actions, but exactly how it does so was not uncovered.
Simkus, Nora Maria, "Effects Of Improvement Size On Contentment, Aspiration Level, Perceived Strength, Perceived Conflict, And Instrumental Action Escalation" (1986). Digitized Theses. 1560.