Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Education Specialist


This study investigated two theories of illusory correlation in social judgment by examining how varying the level of cognitive load during encoding of social stimuli affected the amount of illusory correlation. If the level of illusory correlation increases in a monotonic relationship with increasing cognitive load, then this type of increase would provide evidence for the distinctiveness-based view of illusory correlation (Hamilton & GifFord, 1976); however, if levels of illusory correlation show a curvilinear relationship, this relationship would provide support for the differentiated meaning view (Haslam, McGarty, & Brown, 1996). Cognitive load was manipulated by having participants perform an auditory secondary task while stimuli were presented and the level of illusory correlation was examined after low, medium, and high levels of cognitive load. The findings failed to provide support for either the distinctiveness-based or the differentiated meaning view. However, there was some indication that more illusory correlation was present in the high cognitive load condition than in low load condition.


Cognition and Perception | Psychology