Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Haslam I 233
Illusory correlation/Hamilton/Gifford: If it is true that minorities are distinctive, then one might also ask whether there are any types of social behaviour that are equally distinctive. Hamilton and Gifford (Hamilton and Gifford 1976(1)) argued that because it is socially desirable to behave positively, negative behaviour should be less common and hence it too should attract more attention. Yet this still does not explain why minority groups should be seen particularly negatively. It does, however, once Hamilton and Gifford made the additional assumption that rare – i.e., undesirable – behaviours performed by minority members would be doubly distinctive and once they argued that as a consequence of this they will be particularly attention-grabbing and hence particularly likely to be processed with care and stored in memory.
Illusory correlation model/Hamilton/Gifford: suggests that cognitive factors alone might explain the pervasiveness of negative stereotypes of minorities (except among the minority group itself where there may be frequent exposure to other minorities). The model could explain why so many people misperceive the world in the same way without needing to draw on accounts of social structure that are not based on cognitive factors. >Experiment/Gifford/Hamilton.


1. 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.



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.
Hamilton, David
Haslam I
S. Alexander Haslam
Joanne R. Smith
Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2017


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