Spontaneous Social Cognition Content

Traditional measures of the content of social groups’ stereotypes differ from measures of stereotype salience (Nicolas, Bai, & Fiske, 2021)

Our research on this topic combines theory and data-driven approaches to study the dimensions that perceivers use spontaneously when evaluating others. To achieve this, we have developed text analysis methods to code open-ended reports of stereotypes and first impressions of faces. In adversarial collaborations between proponents of various social cognition models, we have found that perceivers spontaneously prioritize warmth impressions, but that a wide variety of dimensions are used, including status and beliefs. More notably, we show that studying which dimensions are spontaneously salient to perceivers provides novel insights compared to traditional scales that measure only the content of social groups’ stereotypes.

Gandalf Nicolas
Gandalf Nicolas
Assistant Professor of Psychology