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Imprisoned Imperceptions: Inaccuracy in Incarceration Demographic Stereotypes
Unformatted Document Text:  Incarceration Beliefs significance” of the results, suggested that effect sizes above .80 could be considered “large”. Such an effect size translates into a correlation of about .40 (in the remainder of this paper, “effect sizes” are discussed exclusively as correlations). By this standard, correlations of .40 and higher could be considered accurate because they represent a “large” correspondence between stereotype and reality. In addition, according to Rosenthal’s (1991) binomial effect size display, a correlation of at least .40 roughly translates into people being right at least 70% of the time. This means they are right more than twice as often as they are wrong. That seems like an appropriate cutoff for considering a stereotype reasonably accurate. Moderate correspondence, of course, is less than high correspondence. It reflects a mix of accuracy and inaccuracy. Following the same standards as described above (Cohen, 1988), we will characterize correlations between people’s beliefs and reality ranging from .25 to .40 as moderately accurate. Such correlations do not reflect perfect accuracy, but nor do they reflect complete inaccuracy. Using Rosenthal’s (1991) binomial effect size display, a correlation of .30, for example, means that people are right almost two thirds of the time. Group and individual level accuracy. The two previous questions – how discrepant are people’s beliefs from reality and how well do they correspond to reality – each can be asked at two different levels of analysis. Group-level accuracy refers to the averaged perceptions of all perceivers. For instance, in the present study, each participant provides an estimate of the proportion of the prison population that is Black. These estimates can be summed and averaged to provide the group’s average belief (stereotype) about the proportion of the prison population that is Black. One can assess the accuracy of this group level stereotype by comparing it to the actual proportion of the prison population that is Black. Group-level accuracy has a special place in theoretical conceptions of stereotypes. It can be considered an operationalization (in any given study) of “consensual” stereotypes, which refer to the 11

Authors: Ragusa, Laura.
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Incarceration Beliefs
significance” of the results, suggested that effect sizes above .80 could be considered “large”. Such 
an effect size translates into a correlation of about .40 (in the remainder of this paper, “effect sizes” 
are discussed exclusively as correlations).  By this standard, correlations of .40 and higher could be 
considered accurate because they represent a “large” correspondence between stereotype and reality. 
In addition, according to Rosenthal’s (1991) binomial effect size display, a correlation of at least .40 
roughly translates into people being right at least 70% of the time.  This means they are right more 
than twice as often as they are wrong.  That seems like an appropriate cutoff for considering a 
stereotype reasonably accurate.
Moderate correspondence, of course, is less than high correspondence.  It reflects a mix of 
accuracy and inaccuracy.  Following the same standards as described above (Cohen, 1988), we will 
characterize correlations between people’s beliefs and reality ranging from .25 to .40 as moderately 
accurate.  Such correlations do not reflect perfect accuracy, but nor do they reflect complete 
inaccuracy.  Using Rosenthal’s (1991) binomial effect size display, a correlation of .30, for example, 
means that people are right almost two thirds of the time.  
Group and individual level accuracy.  The two previous questions – how discrepant are 
people’s beliefs from reality and how well do they correspond to reality – each can be asked at two 
different levels of analysis. Group-level accuracy refers to the averaged perceptions of all perceivers. 
For instance, in the present study, each participant provides an estimate of the proportion of the 
prison population that is Black. These estimates can be summed and averaged to provide the group’s 
average belief (stereotype) about the proportion of the prison population that is Black.  One can 
assess the accuracy of this group level stereotype by comparing it to the actual proportion of the 
prison population that is Black.
Group-level accuracy has a special place in theoretical conceptions of stereotypes.  It can be 
considered an operationalization (in any given study) of “consensual” stereotypes, which refer to the 

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