Social Judgeability: The Impact of Meta-Informational Cues on the Use of Stereotypes

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According to a social judgeability analysis, a crucial determinant of impression formation is the extent to which people feel entitled to judge a target person. Two experiments tested the impact of the subjective availability of individuating information on a social judgment independent of its actual presence. In Experiment 1, people made a stereotypical judgment when they believed individuating information was present even if no information was in fact given. In Experiment 2, Ss who thought they received individuating information made more extreme and confident judgments than Ss who thought they received category information. This indicates that Ss' judgments were not simply a function of implicit demand: The illusion of receiving individuating information led Ss to believe they possessed the necessary evidence for legitimate decision making. This result supports the existence of rules in the social inference process.

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