Guilt by association and honor by association: the role of acquired equivalence

Psychon Bull Rev. 2013 Apr;20(2):385-90. doi: 10.3758/s13423-012-0346-3.


Guilt by association and honor by association are two types of judgments that suggest that a negative or positive quality of a person or object can transfer to another person or object, merely by co-occurrence. Most examples have been demonstrated under conditions of direct associations. Here, we provide experimental evidence of guilt by association and honor by association via indirect associations. We show that participants may treat two individuals alike if they have been separately paired with a common event using an acquired-equivalence paradigm. Our findings suggest that association fallacies can be examined using a paradigm originally developed for research with nonhuman animals and based on a representation mediation account.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Association*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment / physiology*
  • Male
  • Transfer, Psychology / physiology*
  • Young Adult