Oversampling of minority categories drives misperceptions of group compositions.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The ability to estimate proportions informs our immediate impressions of social environments (e.g., of the diversity of races or genders within a crowded room). This study examines how the distribution of attention during brief glances shapes estimates of group gender proportions. Performance-wise, subjects exhibit a canonical pattern of judgment errors: small proportions are overestimated while large values are underestimated. Subjects' eye movements at sub-second timescales reveal that these biases follow from a tendency to visually oversample members of the gender minority. Rates of oversampling dovetail with average levels of error magnitudes, response variability, and response times. Visual biases are thus associated with the inherent difficulty in estimating particular proportions. All results are replicated at a within-subjects level with non-human ensembles using natural scene stimuli; the observed attentional patterns and judgment biases are thus not exclusively guided by face-specific visual properties. Our results reveal the biased distribution of attention underlying typical judgment errors of group proportions.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Khaw, MW; Kranton, R; Huettel, S

Published Date

  • September 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 214 /

Start / End Page

  • 104756 -

PubMed ID

  • 33971528

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8628853

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-7838

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0010-0277

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104756


  • eng