Although people simultaneously belong to multiple social categories, any one of these competing representations can dominate the categorization process. It is surprising therefore to learn that only a few studies have considered the question of how people are categorized when multiple categorizations are available. In addition, relatively little is known about the cognitive mechanisms through which these categorization effects are realized. In the reported research, we attempted to extend recent ideas from work on selective attention to shed some light on these fundamental issues in social perception. Our basic contention was that following the initial identification of a person's applicable categories, the categorization process is driven by the interplay of both excitatory and inhibitory mechanisms. The results of 3 studies supported this contention. We discuss our findings in the wider context of contemporary issues in social stereotyping.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science