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The "Child of Divorce" as a Person Prototype: Bias in the Recall of Information about Children in Divorced Families

Paul R. Amato
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 53, No. 1 (Feb., 1991), pp. 59-69
DOI: 10.2307/353133
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/353133
Page Count: 11
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The "Child of Divorce" as a Person Prototype: Bias in the Recall of Information about Children in Divorced Families
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Abstract

The perspective of cognitive social psychology was used to explore the "child of divorce" prototype. In the first study, a free-recall task was used to generate descriptions of children from divorced families. Content analysis of these responses revealed a primarily negative image. The second and third studies tested the hypothesis that people recall information about children from divorced families in a biased manner; that is, they recall more unfavorable information and less favorable information relative to children from intact families. This hypothesis received support. The third study found that a cognitive bias against children of divorce exists among those who hold positive as well as negative attitudes toward these children. The results are discussed in relation to expectancy confirmation and the self-fulfilling prophecy.

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