32 Pages

On Disregarding Deviants: Exemplar Typicality and Person Perception

WithC. Neil Macrae, Galen V. Bodenhausen, Alan B. Milne, Luigi Castelli

A pervasive problem in mental life is that of exemplar selectivity or how one isolates specific category members from other instances of a class. This problem is particularly pronounced in person perception, where perceivers may routinely want to personalize selected individuals while continuing to respond towards other members of the category in a stereotype-based manner. Upon encountering an unfamiliar person, the social perceiver faces the potentially daunting task of constructing a meaningful and coherent impression of the individual. Conventional wisdom deals with the above problem in a relatively straightforward manner. When category disconfirmation occurs, perceivers are believed to search long-term memory for alternative knowledge structures that can successfully accommodate the attributes of deviant group members. Episodic retrieval models of mind posit that information is stored in memory in an instance-based manner. When perceivers encounter a particular group member, people suspect that they will inevitably encode an exemplar-based representation of the individual in mind.