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Can the same information be typical and atypical? How perceived typicality moderates assimilation and contrast in evaluative judgements

Herbert Bless () and Michaela Wänke ()
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Herbert Bless: Mikrosoziologie und Sozialpsychologie Universität Mannheim, Postal: Seminargebäude A 5 D-68131 Mannheim
Michaela Wänke: Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Postal: L 13, 15, D-68131 Mannheim

No 99-12, Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications from Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim

Abstract: We investigated how the perceived typicality of context information for a target category moderates whether that information produces assimilation or contrast in the target evaluation. To manipulate context information, we increased the accessibility of either positive or negative exemplars. These exemplars were pretested to seem moderately typical with respect to the target category if participants were not provided with additional instructions. To manipulate perceived typicality, we provided different instructions so that participants categorized the same activated exemplar as either typical or atypical. Infomation that was perceived as typical resulted in assimilation effects, whereas information that was perceived as aypical resulted in contrast effects. The results showed that the very same context may result in assimilation or contrast as a function of the categorization decisions that operate on the context information.

Pages: 29 pages
Date: 1999-01-19
Note: Financial Support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, SFB 504, at the University of Mannheim, is gratefully acknowledged.
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