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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Perceiving individuals and groups: Expectancies, dispositional inferences, and causal attributions

  • Author(s): Susskind, J
  • Maurer, K
  • Thakkar, V
  • Hamilton, DL
  • Sherman, JW
  • et al.

Two experiments investigated differences in forming impressions of individual and group targets. Experiment 1 showed that when forming an impression of an individual, perceivers made more extreme trait judgments, made those judgments more quickly and with greater confidence, and recalled more information than when the impression target was a group. Experiment 2 showed that when participants were forming an impression of an individual, expectancy-inconsistent behaviors spontaneously triggered causal attributions to resolve the inconsistency; this was not the case when the impression target was a group. Results are interpreted as reflecting perceivers' a priori assumptions of unity and coherence in individual versus group targets.

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