ERIC Number: ED147436
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977
Reference Count: 0
Illusory Correlation as a Basis for Social Stereotypes.
Hamilton, David L.
Stereotypic statements about social groups are correlational in nature. That is, they express the speaker's belief in the relationship between two variables, one having to do with group membership and the other being a psychological attribute. This paper describes research directed toward determining cognitive biases influencing the development of correlational concepts and their possible effects on stereotypic conceptions of social groups. Previous studies indicate that subjects overestimated the frequency with which certain types of stimulus co-occurrences had appeared in a stimulus sequence. Studies conducted by this author pursued the implications of these findings for the perception of social groups. The four experiments described focused on biases in subjects' judgment of how frequently certain kinds of information had described particular groups in a series of stimulus sequences they had just seen. Both behavioral and occupational stereotypes were examined. In all four cases subjects came away with misperceptions of the relationships among variables contained in that stimulus information. That is, some strong illusory correlations were reflected in their judgments. These experiments, then, provide strong documentation of the extent to which biases in our information processing system can influence our conceptions of social groups. (Author/GC)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Mental Health (DHEW), Rockville, MD.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Convention of the American Psychological Association (San Francisco, California, 1977)