Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Haslam I 236
Illusory correlation/social psychology: part of the attraction for many social psychologists must be that it allows us to avoid explanatory principles drawn from other disciplines such as sociology, political science, and history. nevertheless there were many buyers for this idea (just as a generation earlier there had been a receptive audience for the idea that fascism was the product of a personality type that stemmed from child-rearing practices in particular cultures; after Adorno et al., 1950)(1).
Stereotype formation/social psychology: in the 1970s social psychology was ready for a cognitive revolution that would cut through the complexity of alternative accounts that were framed in terms of social structure and ongoing social relations. >Stereotypes/social psychology, >Illusory correlation/Psychological theories.
Illusory correlation effect: it was shown that the effect was very robust: Mullen and Johnson (1990)(2) showed that the effect was significant but of small size. Critically, this is a seemingly simple effect, which can be easily explained and understood, and which can be easily reproduced in the laboratory or classroom. In short, the study (Hamilton and Gifford 1976(3)) has all the ingredients of a classic study. >Experiment/Gifford/Hamilton.
Stereotype formation/VsGifford/VsHamilton: there were good reasons to be circumspect about distinctiveness-based illusory correlation as an account of stereotype formation.
Haslam I 237
Illusory correlation/KlausVsGifford/KlausVsHamilton/FiedlerVsGifford/FiedlerVsHamilton: (Klaus Fiedler 1991(4), and Smith (1991(5): proposed two new accounts of illusory correlation: neither model afforded any special importance to paired or doubly distinctive information. >Illusory correlation/Smith, >Illusory correlation/Fiedler.

1. Adorno, T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J. and Sanford, R.N. (1950) The Authoritarian Personality. New York: Harper.
2. Mullen, B. and Johnson, C. (1990) ‘Distinctiveness-based illusory correlations and stereotyping: A meta-analytic integration’, British Journal of Social Psychology, 29: 11–28.
3. Hamilton, D.L. and Gifford, R.K. (1976) ‘Illusory correlation in intergroup perception: A cognitive basis of stereotypic judgments’, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 12: 392–407.
4. Fiedler, K. (1991) ‘The tricky nature of skewed frequency tables: An information loss account of distinctiveness-based illusory correlations’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60: 24–36.
5. Smith, E.R. (1991) ‘Illusory correlation in a simulated exemplar-based memory’, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 27: 107–23.



Craig McGarty, „Stereotype Formation. Revisiting Hamilton and Gifford’s illusory correlation studies“, in: Joanne R. Smith and S. Alexander Haslam (eds.) 2017. Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic studies. London: Sage Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Social Psychology
Haslam I
S. Alexander Haslam
Joanne R. Smith
Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2017


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