Reflecting and deflecting stereotypes: Assimilation and contrast in impression formation and automatic behavior
SourceJournal of Experimental Social Psychology, 37, 4, (2001), pp. 286-299
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI SCP
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
SubjectBehaviour Change and Well-being
Factors influencing the tendency to represent a social stimulus primarily in stereotypic terms, or more as a distinct exemplar, were predicted to moderate automatic behavior effects, producing assimilation and contrast respectively. In Experiment 1, we demonstrated that when an impression pertained to a group of elderly people it led to behavioral assimilation to the stereotype (i.e., slower response latencies) and to contrast when identical information pertained to an individual exemplar. In Experiment 2, an impression of a single individual led to behavioral contrast under normal circumstances but to behavioral assimilation under cognitive load. Experiment 3 demonstrated that while a group impression led to assimilation under normal conditions, this effect was eliminated under conditions of accuracy motivation. Conditions that fostered assimilation were characterized by more stereotypical impressions of the stimulus target(s) compared to conditions that fostered contrast. Implications for automatic behavior are discussed.
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