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date: 26 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews research on social impression formation, focusing specifically on how social neuroscience has contributed to our understanding of this complex but fundamental social process. For convenience, this review organizes around three different ways that people form impressions of one another: secondhand information (being told about someone), direct behavioral experience (interacting with someone), and appearance (seeing someone’s looks). While the lines between these three information sources often blur, studies focusing on one kind or another have tended to elicit different patterns of neural activity, with the more deliberative tasks involving secondhand information and direct experience most frequently recruiting medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), temporoparietal junction (TPJ), and posterior regions of the superior temporal sulcus (pSTS); and tasks involving more automatic, appearance-based judgments most frequently recruiting the amygdala. The chapter concludes by comparing impression formation and intentional inference, and then discussing their functional relationship.

Keywords: impression formation, social cognition, attribution, theory of mind, intent, capability, dispositions, agents, warmth, competence, trustworthiness, dominance, face perception, mPFC, amygdala, Stereotype Content Model, fMRI, social neuroscience, social per

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