Forming impressions of others
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Forming Impressions of Others:. A Classroom Demonstration. Introduction. This demonstration was created by Jackson (2000) and is based on an actual study by Hamilton and Gifford (1979). Instructions.

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Forming Impressions of Others:

A Classroom Demonstration

Introduction l.jpg

  • This demonstration was created by Jackson (2000) and is based on an actual study by Hamilton and Gifford (1979).

Instructions l.jpg

  • You will see a series of statements, each describing a person performing some type of behavior.

  • Each person belongs to either Group A or Group B.

  • After all statements have been presented, you will respond with your impressions.

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Done! owner.

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Group Ratings owner.

  • Construct the table below on a scrap piece of paper.

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Group Ratings owner.

  • Your next task is to rate each of the groups.

  • Use the scale below:

    • 1: Strongly Disagree

    • 7: Strongly Agree

  • You should use intermediate values as well as these two extremes.

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Group A (n = 26 members) owner.

18 positive statements

8 negative statements

9:4 ratio of positive to negative statements

Group B (n = 13 members)

9 positive statements

4 negative statements

9:4 ratio of positive to negative statements


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Debriefing owner.

  • The ratio of positive and negative events was exactly the same for Group A and Group B!

  • Did we rate the Groups the way we should have?

  • Are our ratings of the Groups exactly equal?

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Illusory Correlation owner.

  • This demonstration illustrates an Illusory Correlation – the perception of a relationship where none exists, or perception of a stronger relationship than actually exists. Another way to think of it – a false impression that two variables correlate.

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Illusory Correlation owner.

  • The joint occurrence of two distinctive events (minority member – Group B & distinctive event - negative behavior) probably attracted more attention and caused faulty impressions.

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Illusory Correlation owner.

  • Examples:

    • It always rains on the week-end

    • It always rains after you wash the car

    • The phone always rings when you are in the shower

    • Librarians are quiet

    • Doctors are wealthy

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Illusory Correlation owner.

  • The Illusory correlation may be one reason individuals become prejudiced.

  • Research has shown that White Americans overestimate the arrest rate of African Americans (Hamilton & Sherman, 1996).

    • African Americans = minority

    • Arrest Rate = distinctive event