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Psychol Sci. 2008 Mar;19(3):249-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02076.x.

Implicit attitude generalization occurs immediately; explicit attitude generalization takes time.

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Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA.


People are able to explicitly resist using knowledge about one person to evaluate another person from the same group. After learning about positive and negative behaviors performed by one individual from each of two different groups, participants were introduced briefly to new individuals from the groups. Implicit evaluations of the original individuals readily generalized to the new individuals; explicitly, participants resisted such generalization. Days later, both implicit and explicit evaluations of the original individuals generalized to the new individuals. The results suggest that associative links (e.g., shared group membership) are sufficient for implicit attitude generalization, but deliberative logic (e.g., individual group members are not necessarily the same) can reduce explicit generalization by association. When knowledge distinguishing who did what is unavailable, such as after forgetting, associative knowledge provides the basis of explicit evaluation. We conclude that a simple association linking one individual to another can produce implicit attitude generalization immediately and explicit attitude generalization eventually.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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