STEALING THUNDER: THE INFLUENCE OF SPECIFICITY, ELABORATION, AND ARGUMENT QUALITY
stealing thunder , impression management , confessions , social influence
Stealing Thunder is a phenomenon where transgressors reveal potentially damaging information about their transgressions before its details can be revealed by a third party. Much research has been done on the Stealing Thunder phenomenon, with the majority having been focused on establishing the existence of the effect and the potential moderating factors that influence the efficacy of the tactic. A review of the literature reveals it to be somewhat lacking in several regards. First, the breadth and depth of research on the moderators and features of stealing thunder have been quite limited. Second, the interpretability of existing research is often difficult because of methodological ambiguities. The present document describes two programs of research designed to address some of the breadth and methodological issues present in the existing literature. The first program of research investigated the potential influence of a previously unexamined feature of stealing thunder, confession specificity. Across four studies, results showed that stealing thunder confessions were more effective when they contained specific details regarding the transgression than when they contained comparatively vague details. Additionally, the evidence suggests that previously-assumed interchangeable dependent variables should not be used interchangeably, and stealing thunder exerts a stronger effect on measures of honesty than on measures of global evaluation because honesty is a more proximal outcome of stealing thunder than is global evaluation. The second program of research investigated the influence of elaboration on stealing thunder across two studies. However, because not all manipulations in this second program of research were effective, it was not possible to fully evaluate the critical hypotheses. Nonetheless, this second set of studies might provide building blocks towards improved studies that might provide a more satisfying answer to the research question. Overall, results across two programs of research not only extended the iii stealing thunder literature, but also contributed to a broader understanding of stealing thunder mechanisms as well as the comparative effectiveness of stealing thunder on shaping judgments of different dimensions of person perception.