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On the use of gender categories and emotion categories in threat‐based person impressions

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People often form impressions of others in contexts where both relatively static demographic cues (e.g., age, race, gender) and situationally flexible, dynamic cues (e.g., emotion expressions) are available. We examined whether and how attending to gender (male, female) versus emotion expression (neutral, smiling) affects threat-based person impressions. In three experiments, we heightened the salience of either gender categories or emotion categories in a sequential priming task. Category salience consistently moderated the use of both categories in threat impressions. The effect of gender (emotion) categories was stronger when attention was directed to gender (emotion) than when attention was directed to emotion (gender); however, category salience did not eliminate the use of either category. Implications for models of person construal and bias in person impressions are discussed.

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