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Separating the Wheat from the Chaff: Does Discriminating Between Diagnostic and Nondiagnostic Information Eliminate the Dilution Effect?
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The dilution effect refers to the finding that judgments are often unduly influenced by nondiagnostic information, producing regressive judgment. Because the dilution effect is a problem in various domains, strategies to control the impact of nondiagnostic information were explored by drawing on a perceptual and a conversational account of the dilution effect. Three experiments (n = 259) demonstrate that explicit instructions to discriminate between diagnostic and nondiagnostic information did not reduce the dilution effect. Rather, consistent with a perceptual explanation but not consistent with a conversational explanation, the dilution effect disappeared only when participants engage in perceptual control, that is, when they actively remove nondiagnostic pieces of information before making a judgment. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.