Most models of how perceivers infer the widespread attitudes and qualities of social groups revolve around either the self (social projection, false consensus) or stereotypes (stereotyping). I suggest people rely on both of these inferential strategies, with perceived general similarity moderating their use, leading to increased levels of projection and decreased levels of stereotyping. Three studies featuring existing individual differences in perceived similarity as well as manipulated perceptions supported the predictions, with similarity yielding increased projection to, and decreased stereotyping of, various ingroups and outgroups. Evidence that projection and stereotyping may serve as inferential alternatives also emerged. The model and accompanying results have implications for research on social comparison and projection, stereotyping and prejudice, and social inference.
Ames, Daniel. "Strategies for Social Inference: A Similarity Contingency Model of Projection and Stereotyping in Attribute Prevalence Estimates." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 87, no. 5 (November 2004): 573-85.
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