According to contemporary models of accountability [Lerner, J.S., & Tetlock, P.E. (1999). Accounting for the effects of accountability. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 255–275], when individuals are warned that they will be held accountable for their decisions, both information processing and judgment vigilance increase. We used an established generalization paradigm [Garcia-Marques, L., & Mackie, D.M. (1999). The impact of stereotype incongruent information on perceived group variability and stereotype change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 979–990] to extend the application of these principles to the process of member-to-group generalization in stereotype change. As predicted, across the three studies (Ns = 60, 78, and 101), accountability was found to amplify generalization under control conditions, both when the member information was stereotypical (Experiment 1) and counterstereotypical (Experiments 2 and 3). Accountability was found to attenuate generalization (Experiments 2 and 3) when a meta-judgmental cue discredited the validity of the member information for the group judgment. Ancillary evidence from Experiments 2 and 3 suggests a mediational role for the cognitive fencing-off of the member information from the group schema. The implications of the observed interplay between stereotyping and meta-cognitions for theory and policy are discussed.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology Vol. 45, Issue 4, p. 676-685