Social cognition: Thinking categorically about others

C. Neil Macrae*, Galen V. Bodenhausen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

909 Scopus citations


In attempting to make sense of other people, perceivers regularly construct and use categorical representations to simplify and streamline the person perception process. Noting the importance of categorical thinking in everyday life, our emphasis in this chapter is on the cognitive dynamics of categorical social perception. In reviewing current research on this topic, three specific issues are addressed: (a) When are social categories activated by perceivers, (b) what are the typical consequences of category activation, and (c) can perceivers control the influence and expression of categorical thinking? Throughout the chapter, we consider how integrative models of cognitive functioning may inform our understanding of categorical social perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-120
Number of pages28
JournalAnnual review of psychology
StatePublished - 2000


  • Automaticity
  • Inhibition
  • Memory
  • Person perception
  • Stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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