Structural models for the mediation of salience effects on attribution

Susan T. Fiske, David A. Kenny, Shelley E. Taylor

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Previous research has demonstrated that salient information is overrepresented in causal attributions. Two experiments were conducted to investigate potential mediators for this effect and to make a case for the use of structural models in explanations of process. Two mediators were considered: enhanced visual recall of salient stimuli and exaggerated schema-relevant recall of salient stimuli. Although analyses of variance supported the visual recall model, structural analyses demonstrated its implausibility. Analyses of variance and structural models revealed that schema-relevant recall, that is, information seen as representative of causal influence, is a plausible mediator; this was particularly true of relevant visual information. Results suggest that salience effects (S. E. Taylor & S. T. Fiske in L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 11). New York: Academic Press, 1978) are due to: (a) the attentional advantage of inherently salient visual events and (b) the influence of stored visual and nonvisual schema-relevant information on causal judgments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-127
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1982

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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