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Context effects in similarity judgments

Yearsley, J. ORCID: 0000-0003-4604-1839, Pothos, E. M. ORCID: 0000-0003-1919-387X, Barque-Duran, A. , Trueblood, J. & Hampton, J. A. ORCID: 0000-0002-0363-8232 (2022). Context effects in similarity judgments. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 151(3), pp. 711-717. doi: 10.1037/xge0001097


Tversky’s (1977) famous demonstration of a diagnosticity effect indicates that the similarity between the same two stimuli depends on the presence of contextual stimuli. In a forced choice task, the similarity between a target and a choice, appears to depend on the other choices. Specifically, introducing a distractor grouped with one of the options would reduce preference for the grouped option. However, the diagnosticity effect has been difficult to replicate, casting doubt on its robustness and our understanding of contextual effects in similarity generally. We propose that the apparent brittleness of the diagnosticity effect is because it is in competition with an opposite attraction effect. Even though in both the similarity and decision-making literatures there are indications for such a competition, we provide the first direct experimental demonstration of how an attraction effect can give way to a diagnosticity one, as a distractor option is manipulated.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: ©American Psychological Association, [2021]. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at:
Publisher Keywords: similarity, diagnosticity effect, attraction effect
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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