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Threshold Violations In Social Judgment
People often pre-set the thresholds they use to pass social judgment (e.g., promising re-ward/punishment after X good/bad behaviors). Ten experiments reveal when, why, and how people violate these thresholds, even after formally establishing them. People are swayed to be both “quicker to judge” (e.g., promising reward/punishment after 3 good/bad behaviors, yet then acting after 2) and “slower to judge” (e.g., promising reward/punishment after 3 good/bad behaviors, yet then withholding until 4) depending on what unfolds—despite all behaviors meeting their threshold. We document these discrepancies across many parameters and propose an integrative framework to explain them, rooted in psychological support: Being both “quicker” and “slower” to judge reflect distinct modes of evaluation in pre-setting social judgment thresholds (involving a packed summary judgment extending across myriad possibilities) vs. following them in real time (involving an unpacked focus on whatever reality unfolds). Finally, we show that these violations damage reputations and relationships.