Multiple identities in social perception and interaction: Challenges and opportunities

Sonia K. Kang, Galen V Bodenhausen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Scopus citations


Categorization plays a fundamental role in organizing daily interactions with the social world. However, there is increasing recognition that social categorization is often complex, both because category membership can be ambiguous (e.g., multiracial or transgender identities) and because different categorical identities (e.g., race and gender) may interact to determine the meaning of category membership. These complex identities simultaneously impact social perceivers' impressions and social targets' own experiences of identity, thereby shaping perceptions, experiences, and interactions in fundamental ways. This review examines recent research on the perception and experience of the complex, multifaceted identities that both complicate and enrich our lives. Although research has historically tended to focus more on difficulties and challenges associated with multiple identities, increasing attention is being paid to opportunities that emerge from the possession of identities that include multiple distinct or overlapping groups. We consider how these opportunities might benefit both perceivers and targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-574
Number of pages28
JournalAnnual Review of Psychology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Crossed categorization
  • Discrimination
  • Diversity
  • Person perception
  • Social cognition
  • Social identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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