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Meaning-seeking in the illusory correlation paradigm: The active role of participants in the categorization process

Berndsen, M., McGarty, C., Van Der Pligt, J. and Spears, R. (2001) Meaning-seeking in the illusory correlation paradigm: The active role of participants in the categorization process. British Journal of Social Psychology, 40 (2). pp. 209-233.

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Abstract

The present research examines the role of categorical perception (McGarty, Haslam, Turner, & Oakes, 1993) in the illusory correlation paradigm. This approach assumes that the search for meaningful differences between two stimulus groups can lead to the illusory correlation effect. This explanation is investigated in Study 1 by presenting participants with constrained stimulus information and examining whether accentuating evaluative differences between stimuli could provide a basis for illusory correlation. Results of this study (N = 64) revealed illusory correlation effects that were related to evaluative reinterpretations of the stimuli. Study 2 (N = 19) focused on the causal relation between illusory correlation and accentuation effects, using the thinking-aloud technique. Detailed analyses of each participants' behaviour indicated that illusory correlation can arise from actively seeking intergroup differences and that reinterpretations of stimuli and the perception of illusory correlation were mutually reinforcing. Implications of these results for stereotyping processes are discussed.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology
Publisher: The British Psychological Society
Copyright: The British Psychological Society
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/3158
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