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Rev Philos Psychol. 2016;7:163-180. Epub 2015 May 6.

Prototype Effect and the Persuasiveness of Generalizations.

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1
Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

Abstract

An argument that makes use of a generalization activates the prototype for the category used in the generalization. We conducted two experiments that investigated how the activation of the prototype affects the persuasiveness of the argument. The results of the experiments suggest that the features of the prototype overshadow and partly overwrite the actual facts of the case. The case is, to some extent, judged as if it had the features of the prototype instead of the features it actually has. This prototype effect increases the persuasiveness of the argument in situations where the audience finds the judgment more warranted for the prototype than for the actual case (positive prototype effect), but decreases persuasiveness in situations where the audience finds the judgment less warranted for the prototype than for the actual case (negative prototype effect).

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