Imagine standing in a crowd of people who support a cause that you believe in. Now imagine standing in a crowd of people who support the opposing side. Which crowd seems bigger? Previous research suggests that your emotional involvement can influence your estimation of the size of each group. In this study, we want to find out how membership in a group influences your numerical judgments.
During our study, adults and children will read a story involving two “teams” or “armies”, represented as red and black dots on a computer screen. We tell participants that they belong to one group (e.g., “the black team”) and that they are fighting the opposing group (e.g., “the red team”). Participants play a short video game where they must eliminate the opposing team’s dots from the screen. For some participants, the opposing group is described as harmless. For others, it is described as a serious threat. Next, all participants see a brief image with different numbers of red and black dots, and we ask them to estimate how many of each appeared.
We predict that people’s estimates will be affected by their membership in one of the two groups, and how they feel about the opposing group. If the opposing group seems threatening, people may be more likely to over-estimate the number of members of that group.
This study will help us further examine how the perception of group size varies depending on one’s membership in a group as well as one’s feelings about the group he or she is judging.
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This research is conducted by the Infant & Child Cognition Lab at Boston College