British Journal of Social Psychology

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Volume 34 Issue 3 (September 1995), Pages 223-350

Determinants of perceived consistency: The relationship between group entitativity and the meaningfulness of categories (pages 237-256)

The concept of entitativity was developed by Campbell (1958) to refer to the extent to which a group is perceived as a coherent whole or entity. This concept is relevant to research in both social perception (e.g. the categorization effects approach to the study of social stereotyping) and social influence (e.g. the consistency attributed to minority groups in theories of minority influence). On the basis of previous research, four variables were expected to play a role in group entitativity judgements. These were intra‐group variability, group size, diversity (or variety) and extremity. In two empirical studies it was found that entitativity decreased as variability and diversity increased and that it increased with group size. These effects and interactions between group size and extremity, size and diversity, and variability and extremity are consistent with the idea that entitativity is a function of how meaningful a stimulus pattern is. This is in turn (in part) a function of how unlikely the pattern is.

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