In this experiment, we examined how perceivers' familiarity with targets moderates person construal. Based on evidence from object categorization that level of construal varies with expertise in a manner that maximizes cue validity, we reasoned that although social (i.e., group-level) categorization is functional for construing unfamiliar others (about whom little or no individuating information is available), it is less functional for familiar others (about whom a great deal of individuating information is available). Results from an automatic priming paradigm provided evidence for our reasoning: Participants categorized unfamiliar faces according to the most salient categorical dimension available in the visual information (in this case, sex), but did not do so for familiar faces. Implications for models of person perception are discussed.
Quinn, Kimberly, Malia Mason, and C. Neil Macrae. "Familiarity and person construal: Individuating knowledge moderates the automaticity of category activation." European Journal of Social Psychology 39, no. 5 (August 2009): 852-861.
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