Consciousness and Cognition 7 (4):596-602 (1998)
Hidden covariation detection (HCD) theory states that when personality characteristics are surreptitiously associated with irrelevant features, these features obtain heuristic value for future evaluations of personality characteristics. According to the theory, subjects are not consciously aware of using such heuristics in their evaluations. We tested these hypotheses by confronting participants with statements that were said to belong to separate individuals, in which the apparent level of intelligence was associated with an irrelevant feature of the person who allegedly made these statements. In line with HCD theory, participants appeared to use this association, unconsciously, to guide their subsequent evaluations. Implications of these findings for HCD theory are discussed.
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