How the Law of Effect Impacts Sampling Behavior

A universal consequence of the law of effect applied to information sampling is a generalized positivity bias in information search, leading to a negativity bias in resulting evaluations. When a stimulus object provides the individual with pleasant or positive experience, the sampling process will continue until samples are large enough to correct for any errors in small and very small samples at the beginning of the process. In contrast, unpleasant stimulus objects that truncate the sampling process at an early stage prevent the individual from correcting initial sampling errors. If a primacy effect yields too unpleasant an initial sample, this negative impression bias cannot be corrected because the sampling process is truncated.

As illustrated and elegantly explained in several computer-simulation studies, the depicted kind of asymmetric sampling process can account for many major phenomena in social psychology, such as the persistence of negative stereotypes, the derogation of outgroups, the debiasing influence of intergroup contact, and the development of correlated judgment and attitude biases in friends or neighbors, who are jointly exposed to the same sampling experience (Denrell & Le Mens, 2007).

 
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