Dimensions of social perception and cognition

Dimensions of social perception and cognition

What are the dimensions that people spontaneously use to map the similarities and differences between society-representative categories like rich people, immigrants, parents, the military, alcoholics etc.? My research points to agency / socioeconomic success (A, related to competence), conservative-progressive beliefs (B), and trustworthiness / communion (C, related to warmth), summarized as the ABC model of stereotypes about groups. I aim to specify the purpose of beliefs stereotypes, not least because this dimension does not appear in previous models of social perception and cognition. At the same time, I strive to identify moderators of focusing on groups’ stereotypic agency versus beliefs versus communion, and I investigate whether the ABC model also applies to perceiving individuals, brands etc.

Groups’ perceived communion increases with group-perceiver similarity in agency and beliefs. Thus, the relation between groups’ agency and communion is negative and positive in the eyes of perceivers low and high in agency, and the relation between groups’ (progressive) beliefs and communion is negative and positive in the eyes of perceivers conservative and progressive in beliefs, respectively. That is, communion vs. agency and beliefs are non consensual, relational vs. consensual, structural stereotype dimensions, respectively, a theoretical advance with practical implications. Perceived similarity in agency and beliefs increases expected and actual cooperation across society-representative groups in one-shot economic interaction, a result I intent to generalize to other socially relevant behaviors.

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