The Impact Of Situational Factors On Inferred Traits

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Prior research in this area determined that people infer traits about other people instantly and unconsciously. Additional research has concluded that people infer situations from people based on stereotypes as well. Another study determined that spontaneous situational inferences as well as spontaneous trait inference is resistant to changing despite being told to infer about trait based on behavior.

The research attempts to answer this by proposing that stereotypes allow for easy processing in making a decision.

Additionally, they propose a principle of coherence that regulates inferences. This principle identifies how well people can form a stereotype representation. The researchers also explain that if a stereotype is known, inferences that do not adhere to stereotypes is disregarded while inferences that concur with a stereotype are preserved. This is in order to better understand a given situation. What is the rationale for this study? (How does it build on/challenge/close the gap on prior research to answer the key question?)

The rationale for this study is from their observation that the relationship between trait inferences and situational references has not been explored deep enough. This research adds further insight into how prevalent and fixated stereotypes are. What will be done to study the question?(Describe the basic design in 1-2 sentences)

To study the question, the researchers used behavioral descriptions to elicit a response. In addition, the researchers added situations that may provide an alternate explanation for traits. Main hypotheses Traits that are inconsistent with a perceived stereotype will not allow for others to instantly infer character traits. Instead, people will attribute these traits situationally.


Design  IV(s)

  • Stereotype Knowledge  DV(s)
  • Spontaneous trait Inference Between, Within, or Mixed
  • Between ParticipantsInclude age, sex, distinguishing features (e. g. , ½ are clinically depressed, the other ½ are not), and how they were recruited
  • The participants included ninety-one women and twelve men (students) at the University of Lisbon for a total of one-hundred and three participants. ProcedureDescribe step by step “how” participants were run through the study
  • Participants were run in small groups. E-prime software was used. Participants were exposed to writing in blue or black ink. They were asked whether a certain word was given in the writing. They were asked to choose between two letters based upon if they believed the word was in the writing or not/They did this for fifty-one trials that included twenty-four fillers, twenty-four experimental questions, and three start up questions. Measures/materials For each scale include: the scale name, reference, a description of the construct it measures rating scale, (and any subscales if applicable), explain what higher scores on the scale mean
  • A nine-point scale was used to determine how consistent a stereotype is. A rating of 1 means the stereotype is the most inconsistent, while a rating of 9 means the stereotype is most consistent. Stereotype consistent sentences was measured above the five-point scale and stereotype-inconsistent sentences were measured significantly below the midpoint five point scale. Forty-eight trials were administered, of which twenty-four questions were manipulated.


Hypothesis 1

Describe question to be answered: Name statistic test run and if it was significant or not Write out in words what the result means The question being answered is asking if people can determine inferred traits based on situational factors and how familiar they are with a stereotype knowledge. People who were in the stereotype-inconsistent condition were less able to correctly predict the traits. The test runs came out to be (M=6. 31, S. D 11. 9) for the stereotype inconsistent condition and (M=9. 4, S. D 13. 7) for the stereotype consistent condition. For both tests, there was statistical significance. People who had strong stereotype representation (principle of coherence) were more likely to hold on to stereotypes. On the other hand, people who did not have a comparable representation were less likely to respond to the statements correctly. Other Hypotheses Other important analyses or notes


What were the key question(s) the study set out to answer?

  • The key question the researcher set to answer was asking if those who were stereotype consistent (knowledge of stereotype representation) would be more likely to answer in a way that suggests belief in stereotypes. Why were these questions important?
  • These questions were important because stereotypes can be false and negatively impact social relations. Explain whether key conclusions supported the hypotheses. What did they actually find in their results? Did they get what they expected?
  • Key conclusions supported the hypothesis that they had that stereotype-inconsistent participants had less error in making inferences about traits based on stereotypes. In this case, the researchers got what they asked for. How do the results inform prior literature on this topic? (refer back to the literature that was talked about in the introduction)If they did get the results that they expected, how did it support prior theory/research? If they did not get the results that they expected, how did it compare to prior theory/research?
  • The results of this study is consistent with the other study that talked about how participants with stereotype consistent beliefs held stronger spontaneous trait inference than those with stereotype-inconsistent beliefs. The difference between the two studies is that the prior study measured reaction time instead of word choice.

Key strengths

  • The study had strong internal validity.

Key limitations

  • A limitation is that the study can not be generalized to the public due to its sample population consisting of undergraduates and abundance of women.

Future directions

  • In the future, researchers can look at more diverse populations outside of undergraduate students and an abundance of women.


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A. How might the key questions the authors examined help provide a rationale for your group’s research?

The key questions asked could help with my group’s research by allowing us to build off this result. It allows my group to see how these kinds of questions apply to the world.

B. What theory(ies) were identified that might help your group frame a key research question? (NOTE: Don’t just name a theory. Explain the basic tenets of the theory and describe a research question that might emerge from it. )

The principle of coherence is a principle my group could use. This may help me frame a key research question relating to stereotypes. For example, my group may answer a question of whether people are more likely to show belief in stereotypes having been primed for stereotype-relevant behavior versus non-primed participants.

C. What were the unique or interesting features of the design? What components might your group use in their research design?

Interesting features of the design was having the participants respond to written questions by pressing a button. This was a interesting way to conduct the study. My group could use some form of questioning that allows them to press one of two letters that indicates whether they believe a word fits into a certain list.

D. How might these results be generalizable to your sample of undergraduates? Speculate on how you might extend this research in this population. Be specific.

These results may be generalizable to my sample of undergraduates because this study included only undergraduate research. However, this was done in Portugal instead of Southern California. Additionally, I would extend this research to citizens who stop to partake in the study. This would include a wide array of ages, races, and ethnicities.

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