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The Effectiveness of Associative and Rational Statistical Learning in Reducing Children’s Stereotype Formation

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posted on 24.05.2021, 13:20 by Vera Bingchen Chai
A stereotype is a rigid and overgeneralized belief about the characteristics of a social group. Stereotyping is a pervasive phenomenon, and has detrimental effects on children’s development such that it leads to biased information processing and stereotype threat. One of the underlying mechanisms for stereotype formation is illusory correlation, which refers to the erroneous inference about the relationship between two categories of events that in fact are uncorrelated. Given that most of the stereotype reduction training is focused on adults rather than children, this Master’s thesis aimed to examine the effectiveness of two methods that could potentially reduce stereotyping in children. More specifically, this work investigated whether facilitating associative and rational statistical learning could reduce stereotyping in children through inhibiting the formation of illusory correlation. The results showed that 5- to 10-year-old children consistently perceive an illusory correlation between the numerically smaller minority group and the infrequently occurring, negative behaviour. However, the perception of an illusory correlation among 5- to 8-year-olds was significantly reduced through the facilitation of statistical learning, but not associative learning.





Master of Arts



Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type


Thesis Advisor

Lili Ma