Stereotype formation may base on the exaggeration of real group differences (category accentuation) or the misperception of group differences that do not exist (illusory correlation). This research account for both phenomena with J. K. Kruschke's (1996, 2001, 2003) attention theory of category learning. According to the model, the features of majority groups are learned earlier than the features of minority groups. In turn, the features that become associated with a minority are those that most distinguish it from the majority. This second process is driven by an attention-shifting mechanism that directs attention toward group-attribute pairings that facilitate differentiation of the two groups and may lead to the formation of stronger minority stereotypes. Two experiments in this paper will examine on common account for category accentuation and distinctiveness-based illusory correlation.
Factor That Contributes To the Formation of Stereotypes
Tajfel’s experiments (Tajfel & Wilkes, 1963) on category accentuation and Hamilton’s demonstration of the distinctiveness based illusory correlation (Hamilton & Gifford, 1976) are the two seminal findings in the development of the social-cognitive approach to understanding stereotype formation. Whereas category accentuation effects highlight the exaggeration of real intergroup differences as the basis for stereotype formation, the illusory correlation shows that stereotypes may be formed in the absence of real group differences. Research on the two effects has largely proceeded independently, and they have been explained by different mechanisms.
In method 1, the experiment will demonstrate that people pay special attention to distinctive or rare events and recall such event with relative ease. When two distinctive or rare events occur, people will tend to notice the relation between these events more readily. Therefore, encodes this information more effectively and relates these events together. Hence, people...