A pervasive problem in mental life is that of exemplar selectivity or how one isolates specific category members from other instances of a class. This problem is particularly pronounced in person perception, where perceivers may routinely want to personalize selected individuals while continuing to respond towards other members of the category in a stereotype-based manner. To realize these flexible effects, we hypothesized that, when perceivers encounter a group member, they inevitably encode an exemplar-based representation of the individual in mind. Part of this representation, moreover, is information signaling the person's goodness-of-fit with respect to his or her salient group memberships. When the representation is activated on a subsequent occasion, these inferences of category fit moderate the extent of stereotypical thinking. The results of two studies provided converging evidence for this analysis of stereotype function. Exemplar typicality moderated both the accessibility of stereotypic knowledge (Study 1) and the extent to which perceivers used a stereotype to organize information about a target (Study 2). We consider the theoretical and practical implications of these findings for our understanding of the role of stereotypes in person perception.
|Number of pages||24|
|Publication status||Published - 1999|
- INFORMATION-PROCESSING STRATEGIES
- SOCIAL STEREOTYPES
- SCHEMA ABSTRACTION
- INTERGROUP CONTACT
- MENTAL LIFE