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date: 20 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Why do we view people as we do? What is scientifically tractable, in that view? How did subjective concepts such as traits become legitimate “objects of perception”? Thorndike, Asch, and Cronbach were critical. This chapter traces Asch’s legacy to the present and describes the strange independence of research on accuracy from social cognition. Impressions’ internal organization (not accuracy) became the foundation of research on the Big Two (warmth and competence), facial trait dimensions, and morality’s unique status. Associative memory structures and schemata provided the language. The unique impact of negative information is reviewed, along with behaviors’ diagnosticity and how the morality and competence domains differ. The chapter highlights the importance of goals in shaping impressions, of forming impressions without goals (spontaneously), and of stages in forming spontaneous trait inferences. It also notes the importance of social cognitive transference, perceptions of persons and groups, and conceptions of persons as moral agents and objects.

Keywords: accuracy, competence, diagnosticity, goal, impression, morality, spontaneous, subjective, unconscious, warmth

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