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Assimilation and Contrast as a Function of the direction of Comparison

Michaela Wänke ()
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Michaela Wänke: Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Postal: L 13, 15, D-68131 Mannheim

No 99-08, Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications from Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim

Abstract: Two studies show that an extreme context stimulus may elicit assimilation rather than contrast in the evaluation of an ambivalent target stimulus by increasing the salience of the features the target shares with the context stimulus. Holding the descriptions of target and context constant, feature overlap in the representationbuilt of the target was manipulated by the direction of comparison (study 1) and additional instructions (study 2).Depending on the direction of comparison with which target and context were previously compared either asssimilation or contrast to the context valence occured in a later evaluation of the target. The results suggest that activating shared features may suffice to induce inter-exemplar assimilation even without assigning target and context to the same category. This bottom-up process of inter-exemplar assimilation complements the top-down conteceptualization of a category-derived judgement.

Pages: 0 pages
Date: 1999-01-05
Note: The reported research was supported by grant from the Sonderforschungsbereich 504,L 13,15 D-68131 Mannheim and by grant B1 28975 from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft to H. Bless, N.Schwarz and M. Wänke. Comments on an earlier draft by Herbert Bless, Gerd Bohner Klaus Fiedler, Guido Hertl, Jeanette Schmid, Norbert Schwarz and Jim Sherman are gratefully acknowledged. Address correspondence to Michaela Wänke, Psychologisches Institut, Universität Heidelberg, Hauptstr. 47-51, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany; Phone: GErmany-6221-547361; fax: Germany-6221-547745; e-mail ziv7@psi-sv1.psi.uni-heidelberg.de
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