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Dilution Effect

 

Explanations > Theories > Dilution Effect

Description | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

Stereotyping leads people to show bias and inaccurate judgment towards other people. This effect can be reduced or even eliminated when information is given to them about the stereotyped people. 

This information can be innocuous and unrelated to the subject of bias. For example where they live, what their parents do, and so on. 

Dilution works by reducing reliance on the representativeness heuristic, where we assume one person in an out-group is much like another.

Example

My brother-in-law is a well-off dentist. He likes gardening and playing tennis. His wife used to be a secretary in a local company. His father was a teacher in a local school. 

So what?

Using it

Tell other people seemingly-irrelevant personal details about yourself or people you want them to trust or like more.

Defending

Beware of your own stereotypes, and also beware of people bending your views of others.

See also

Contact Hypothesis, Mere Exposure Theory, Out-Group Homogeneity, Propinquity Effect, Representativeness Heuristic, Stereotypes

References

Nisbett, Zukier and Lemley (1981), Hilton and Fein (1989)

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