Mental and Physical Distraction's Relationship with Judgment Heuristics: Cognitive Taxation's Connection to Stereotyping
Bercow, Kaiya S. N.
- The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of distraction on stereotyping behavior to determine whether, as cognitive load is increased, individuals rely on stereotypes to a greater extent. A total of 153 participants (two were excluded from analyses) completed a judgment task where they read a summary of a hypothetical criminal offense and assigned a prison sentence, as well as rated ... read moretheir perception of the severity of the crime and impression of the defendant. A 3 x 2 factorial design was used in which participants were split into three conditions based on distraction; group one received no-distraction, group two was faced with a mental distraction and, group three was physically distracted. Half of each of these groups was exposed to either a White or Black defendant. Next, participants completed an Implicit Association Test (IAT) to evaluate implicit biases. We hypothesized that individuals who were mentally or physically distracted would give longer prison sentences and less favorable impressions of the crime and the defendant when he was Black as opposed to White, than non-distracted participants. The results did not support the hypothesis as no statistically significant interaction was found between distraction and the defendant's race in regards to the dependent measures. The mental and physical distractions may have failed to cognitively tax the participants enough to promote enhanced use of judgment heuristics and stereotyping. Future research directions are discussed that present alternative explorations of this relationship.read less
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