Illusory correlation refers to the tendency for someone to overestimate the frequency with which two events co-occur. The correlation is illusory because it is the product of biased information processing on the part of the perceiver rather than an accurate perception of the stimulus environment. An illusory correlation can result from aspects of the events or from biases of the perceiver. When the perceiver overestimates the frequency with which two infrequent and distinctive events co-occur, it is called a distinctiveness-based illusory correlation. Conversely, when a perceiver expects certain events to occur frequently, and consequently misremembers the number of times they co-occur, it is described as an expectancy-based illusory correlation. With respect to social perception, both types of illusory correlation shed light on the cognitive mechanisms ...

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