Prevalence-induced concept change in human judgment

David E. Levari, Daniel T. Gilbert, Timothy D. Wilson, Beau Sievers, David M. Amodio, Thalia Wheatley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Why do some social problems seem so intractable? In a series of experiments, we show that people often respond to decreases in the prevalence of a stimulus by expanding their concept of it. When blue dots became rare, participants began to see purple dots as blue; when threatening faces became rare, participants began to see neutral faces as threatening; and when unethical requests became rare, participants began to see innocuous requests as unethical. This “prevalence-induced concept change” occurred even when participants were forewarned about it and even when they were instructed and paid to resist it. Social problems may seem intractable in part because reductions in their prevalence lead people to see more of them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1465-1467
Number of pages3
JournalScience
Volume360
Issue number6396
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 29 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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