Two experiments demonstrated that impression formation is biased in individuals who
decided to maintain to sever association. Accepting the veracity of the partner's stereotype-
irrelevant qualities (positive or negative, depending on the decision) helps support the
decision, but also appears nonprejudiced because the decision is not based on the partner's
category membership. Both experiments confirmed predictions. Experiment 2 also
required participants to communicate their impressions of the partner. The effect of choice
on communicated impressions was mediated by the biased processing of stereotype-
For example, participants who were induced into choosing to sever their
association with the target believed that she had negative (but stereotype
-irrelevant) qualities;these beliefs in turn caused participants to
communicate a negative impression of the target.
Findings are considered in light of dissonance theory.
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