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Causal reasoning and social-category combination

Quinn, K.A., Hutter, R. R. C., Carroll, D. J. and Görzig, Anke (2009) Causal reasoning and social-category combination. In: British Psychological Society social psychology section annual conference, 2009-09-15.

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Causal reasoning has been proposed as critical for deriving impressions from conflicting social-category information, but research to date has relied primarily on participant introspection. To provide a more objective test, we adapted methods from studies of the causal status hypothesis, which asserts that features that 'cause' or 'explain' the presence of other features are more central to mental representation. We hypothesized that 'emergent' attributes (that are part of neither constituent stereotype but are part of the combination, and that tend to characterise incongruent rather than congruent social-category combinations) would possess this 'causal status' – particularly in the case of incongruent-category combinations, because of the presumably greater need for causal reasoning to reconcile incongruent versus congruent categories. Participants generated attributes for targets that belonged to multiple social categories, where the stereotypes associated with these categories were congruent, incongruent, or unrelated to one another (in terms of gender and occupational stereotypes); participants then rated the typicality and goodness-of-fit of target individuals whose descriptions highlighted gender-constituent attributes, role-constituent attributes, or emergent attributes. The results indicated that emergent attributes were more central to participants' representations of the social-category combinations – particularly for incongruent-category combinations – suggesting that causal reasoning is implicated in social-category combination and emergent-attribute generation.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2009 The Authors
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2014 15:37
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 23:38
Projects: RES-000-22-2236
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council

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