Empathetic projections and affect reactions in examiners of ‘A’ level English and History

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



Publication details

JournalAssessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice
DateE-pub ahead of print - 4 Mar 2013
DatePublished (current) - 2013
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)266-280
Early online date4/03/13
Original languageEnglish


The affective element of examiner thinking is an under-researched phenomenon. This paper explores the data from a ‘think aloud’ study, discussed in relation to the literature on decision-making, in which English and History examiners demonstrated a variety of affect reactions to scripts. They created detailed mental projections of candidates, with whom they created pseudo-dialogue, as seen elsewhere in the literature, and to whom they have empathetic affect reactions. Participants also attempted to separate themselves from their affect reactions, perceiving and mediating a potential cause of inaccuracy of judgement. The theory of cognitive dissonance is drawn on to suggest an explanation for examiners’ recurrent voicing of affect reactions while they construct them as irrelevant to the decision-making process.

    Research areas

  • affect, empathy, essay marking, judgement

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