Shaver (1970) had two independent variables, severity of the accident outcome (severity) and similarity of the subjects to the transgressor.

Severity was manipulated by giving subjects in different conditions different scenarios:

  • mild outcome = the boy had the metal splinter in his wrist
  • severe outcome = the boy had a metal splinter in his eye

How did Shaver “manipulate” the IV similarity (similar/dissimilar)?


Shaver, K.G. (1970). Defensive attribution: Effects of severity and relevance on the responsibility assigned for an accident In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 14(2): pp 101-113.
DOI: 10.1037/h0028777

  • $\begingroup$ Hi Alexandra, welcome at CogSci! Could you perhaps provide a little more information about Shaver's study. What did he try to investigate and what was the relevance? Also, could you provide a reference in APA style. Then people can read the paper itself and formulate a better answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 18:25
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    $\begingroup$ Personally, now that the reference is provided (Thanks Chris), it seems like a clear enough question to me. I'd love to see more detailed paper-specific questions on this site, like this one. $\endgroup$ Commented May 4, 2017 at 4:03
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    $\begingroup$ @alex What does the paper say in the method section? $\endgroup$ Commented May 4, 2017 at 4:04

1 Answer 1


This article has several experiments included in it. These have different operational definitions of variables, and specifically differ in their definitions of "similarity". I'll assume you are talking about Experiment 3 where the hypothetical child is injured. From the end of Experiment 2 (p. 108, c. 2, first full paragraph):

... a third experiment was conducted in which perceived personal similarity was one of the dependent variables ... Thus, only severity of consequences was actually manipulated.

So for this situation (Experiment 3), similarity is actually treated as an outcome and is not manipulated.


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